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DDOnHflDflEB : 










Entered according to Act of (.'ongress, in the year 1S55, by 


In Iho Clerk's Oflice of the District Court of ILe United States, for tlie 

District of Maryland. 


SuKUwooD & Co., Pkinteks, 
B A L T I 31 11 E . 




%\m laps m xtsi^tttMlu §tVxtM, 

BY n IS 



Previous to my departure for California, near 
and dear friends extracted from me a promise 
to communicate by letter, upon every conve- 
nient occasion, such intelligence as would give 
them a distinct idea of the truthfulness or false- 
hood of the many glowing descriptions and re- 
puted vast wealth of California. In accordance 
with this promise, I collected, from the best and 
most reliable sources, all that I deemed worthy 
of record touching the past of the modern El 
Dorado, relying upon my own powers of observa- 
tion to depicture its present condition and its 
future prospects. 

This correspondence was never intended for 
the public eye, for the simple reason that the 
matter therein is set forth in a very plain man- 
ner, with more regard to truth than elegance of 
diction. Indeed, how could it be otherwise? I 
have only described those things which came 
immediately under my own observation, and, be- 
side this, I make no pretensions to extensive 
scholastic attainments, nor do I claim to be an 
adept in the art of book-making. 


A weary and rather uiiprotitable sojourn of 
three years in various parts of California, af- 
forded me ample time and opportunity to become 
too thoroughly conversant with its rottenness 
and its corruption, its squalor and its misery, 
its crime and its shame, its gold and its dross. 
Simply and truthfully I gave the history of my 
experience to friends at home, who, after my 
return, suggested that profit might be derived 
from giving these letters to the world in narra- 
tive form, and urged me so strenuously, that I at 
length acceded to their wishes, but not without 
much reluctance, being doubtful as to the recep- 
tion of a book from one so incapable as myself 
of producing any thing more than a plain " un- 
varnished tale." 

In order to present a more complete picture 
of California, I have added two chapters, that 
describing the route through Nicaragua, and the 
general restcme at the close of my volume. All 
that I solicit for this, my first off'ering, is a 
liberal and candid examination ; not of a part, 
but of the whole — not a cursory, but a consider- 
ate reading. H. R H 

Salisbury, North Carolina, 1855. 




Introductory Remarks — 'Erroneous opinions respecting Cali- 
fornia — Sterility of the Soil — The Seasons — Destitution of 
Mechanical and Manufacturing Resources — Dependence 
upon Importations for the Conveniences and Necessaries of 
Life — No Inducement to become Permanent Residents of the 
country 13 



California statistically considered — Cost of the Treaty of 
Guadalupe Hidalgo — Price of Passage and Services of Im- 
migrants — Total Yield of the Mines — Amount of Property 
destroyed by Fires, Freshets and Inundations— List of 
Sailing Vessels and Steamers Wrecked upon the coast - 
Public Debt of the State— Debts of San Francisco, Sacra- 
mento and Marysville — Loss of Life by violent measures — 
Extract from the Louisville Journal 23 



Extraordinary Depravity and Corruption — Reasons assigned 
for the laxity of Morals — Much of the Degeneracy and Dis- 
sipation attributable to the absence of female society — The 
Case of an English gentleman — His Story — General Re- 
marks concerning the different classes of Women 36 




Importance of San Francisco — The Golden Gate — The Har- 
bor — Long Wharf— A Motley CroAvd — The Shipping — 
Names of Vessels — Vagrant Boys — Commercial Street — 
Wooden Tenements — The Jews — Fire-proof brick and 
stone structures — Montgomery street — Menial Employ- 
ments — Professional Men washing dishes, waiting upon 
the table, and peddling shrimps and tomcods — Lawyers 
and Land Titles — Grog Shops and Tippling Houses — Bill 
of Fare of a California Groggery 45 



Clay street — Gazing in Ladies' Faces — The Gambling Houses 
— Heterogeneous Assemblage of Blacklegs — The Plaza — 
The City Hall — A Case of Bribery and Corruption — French 
Restaurants — Flour and other Provisions — Frauds and 
Adulterations 69 



A Pistol Gallery — Doctor Natchez — Population of the City — 
Filling in the Bay — 'Lack of Vegetation — Yearning for the 
society of Trees 81 



National habits and traits of Chinese Character — Their 
Dress — The number of Chinese in California — How they 
employ their time — Their arrogance and presumption — 
Manner of Eating — Singularity of their names — Is the 
Chinese Immigration desirable? 86 


OH AP^rER VI I i . 

The Pacific Side of the Continent much Inferior to the Atlan- 
tic Side — Poverty and Suffering in California — Rash and 
mistaken ideas of the country — A few very Fertile Valleys 
— Value of the Precious Metals to the country in which 

, Ihey are found — The Climate 9*7 




Manner of Spending the Sabbath — Mixture and Dissimilarity 
I of the Population — Dance Houses — Mexican Women — In- 
' fluence of Female Society upon the Community — Churches 
in San Francisco 109 



Advertisement announcing the Sport — Mission Dolores — An 
old Catholic Church — Preparation for the Fight — The 
Audience — The Attack — Progress of the Conflict — 'The 
Finale 116 



City and Valley of Sacramento — The Legislature — Shabby 
Hotels — Teamsters and Muleteers — Excess of Merchants — 
Continual Depression in Business — Perfidy and Dishonesty 
of Consignees — California Conflagrations — The Three Cent 
Philosopher 131 



YUBA THE miner's TENT. 

Trip to the Mines — Modus Operandi of Single-handed Min- 
ing — Names of Bars — Mining Laws — More Gentility and 
Nobleness of Soul among the Miners than any other Class 
of People in California — The case of a Highwayman — De- 
scription of a Miner's Tent — His Diet and Cooking Uten- 
sils — Toilsomeness of Mining — Proceeds of three months' 
labor 147 



Situation of Stockton — The San Joaquin Valley — Trip to 
Sonora^ — The best Hotel in the Place — A Lunatic — A Gam- 
bling Prodigy — Shooting Affair — A case of Lynch Law — 
Description of Sonora — Land Speculators — Ephemeral 
Cities — Excitability of the Californians — The Beard — A 
good old Man — His Story 161 



Embarkation from New York — A Terrible Storm — Loss of 
Masts and narrow escape from Shipwreck — ^Wreck of a 
Swedish Brig — An unfortunate Little Bird — Patagonia 
and Cape Horn — Stoppage at Valparaiso — Earthquakes — 
Appearance of the City — A Delectable Garden — Two Cath- 
olic Priests — Beauty of Ocean Scenery in the Pacific — The 
St. Felix Islands — Arrival in San Francisco 187 



Departure from San Francisco — Matters and Things aboard 
the Steamer — The Passengers — A Hoax — ArriA-al at San 


Juan del Sur — Novel Mode of Debarkation — Ludicrous 
Scenes — Trip across the Country — The Weather — Virgin 
Bay — Lake Nicaragua — The San Juan River — Bad Man- 
agement and shabby Treatment on the Isthmus — Negro 
Slavery and Central America — San Juan del Norte, alias 
Greytown 209 



Projected Voyage to Australia abandoned — Trip to the Mines 
in Tuolumne county — My quaint Friend and Companion, 
Mr. Shad Back — Operations in Columbia — The Result 225 



Disordered State of Society — Atrocious and barefaced Crimes 
I — Organization of Vigilance Committees — Salutary effect of 
i their Proceedings — Defence of their Motives and Actions — 
A case of Lynch Law in Sacramento 237 



Trip to Bodega on a Mischievous and Refractory Mule — 
A Chinese Encampment — Description of the country in the 
vicinity of Bodega — The Village of Petaluma — Cruel Treat- 
ment of an Indian Boy — Serious Consequences result from 
the villainous Pranks of his Muleship — Ben. an eccentric 
old Negro 254 



[ndolence and Insignificance of the Digger Indians — What 
they eat — !Means of obtaining the Necessaries of Life — Their 
Habits and Peculiarities — An Incident at a Slaughter- 


house — The Negroes in CaliforniiV — The case of a New 
Orleans Sea-captain and his Slave Joe — A North Car- 
olinian and his two Negroes 268 



Resume of the preceding chapters — Arguments in favor of 
the Atlantic and Pacific Railway — Advantages of the 
Southern Route — Abstract of the Report of the Secretary 
of War on the several Pacific Railroad Explorations — Ex- 
tracts from Letters — Conclusion 280 




An intelligent and patriotic curiosity will find 
the history of few countries more interesting 
than that of California — which has at length re- 
alized those dreams of El Dorado that heguiled 
so many an early adventurer from the comforts 
and hliss of his fireside, to delude and destroy 
him. The marshes of the Orinoco, the Keys of 
Florida, and the hills of Mexico cover the hones 
of many of these original speculators in the 
minerals of the Western World. They sought 
wealth, and found graves. How many of the 
modern devotees of Mammon have done hetter 
in our newly opened land of gold ? 

To explain the causes of the frequent disap- 
pointment of these cherished hopes ; to determine 
the true value of this modern El Dorado ; to ex- 
hibit the prominent features of California and 


its principal cities, particularly San Francisco, 
and thus to enable those "wlio still encourage 
golden dreams to form a proper estimate of their 
chances of success, without submitting to the 
painful teachings of experience — these have been 
the motives which have actuated the author of 
the present work. 

The less to weary the reader, the book has 
been broken up into chapters, in which tlie au- 
thor proposes to discourse familiarly upon wliat 
he has seen and felt^ as he would in a friendly 
letter, rather than to write a formal essay or 
treatise upon California. In pursuing this plan^ 
it is his intention to confine himself exclusively 
to facts, and to describe those facts as clearly as 
possible, so as to leave no ground for a conjec- 
tural filling up of those outlines which his negli- 
gence mav have left va^rue and indistinct. 

In this country, where almost every event 
that occurs is as momentous and unaccountable 
as the wonderful exploits of Habib's and Alad- 
din's genii, to deal with any thing aside from 
actual matters of fact, is at once as silly and 
profitless a business as that of whistling against 
the winds. Yet, in nine-tenths of the descrip- 
tions of life and times in California, truth and 
facts have been set aside, and the writers, in- 
stead of confining themselves to a faithful de- 
lineation of that which actually exists, have made 
astonishing and unwarranted drafts upon their 


imaginations. Instead of detailing facts, they 
have written fictions; instead of making a true 
record, they have interwoven falsehoods with the 
very web of their story. They have chronicled 
dreams instead of realities, and have registered 
vagaries as actual events and undeniable cer- 
tainties. But they have themselves been de- 
ceived. They have been duped in listening to the 
delusive whispers of mischievous sirens, whose 
flattering suggestions and plausible stories have 
had such a magical influence upon their excited 
minds, that they have become accustomed to 
consider every thought of wealth that occurs to 
them a veritable mountain of gold ; — that is to 
say, they have, by some strange hallucination, 
been converted to the belief that whatever Cali- 
fornia ought to be for their own particular ends 
and interests, it really is. In the night-time 
they have arranged and matured prodigious 
plans of profit, and although many days have 
dawned upon them since, that time has yet to 
come which shall reveal to them the utter noth- 
ingness of their nocturnal reveries. But the day 
will come, and it is fast approaching, when the 
spell must be broken. The iron utensils, which 
have been transmuted into golden urns and pal- 
aces night after night, shall once and for ever 
resume their true quality at the approach of 
day. The spell-bound shall be freed I Tlie reverie 
shall be dissipated, the false wealth analyzed, 


and resolved into its component parts ; and when 
these things are done, California will be seen in 
its true light. Then the eyes of the people will 
he opened. The golden haze which has hung 
over this land of romantic hopes and deadly dis- 
appointments will then he rolled away, and the 
clear, naked sunlight of Truth will shine upon 
this ugly cheat, revealing it in all its naked de- 
formity to the eyes of the abused and misin- 
formed public. Then, and not till then, will the 
full extent of popular delusion on this topic be 
known, and this mighty genie collapse into its 
original caldron. 

The truth is, California has been much over- 
rated and much overdone. She has been pressed 
beyond her limits and capacities. Her mana- 
gers have been rash, prodigal and incompetent, 
and they have embarrassed her beyond hope of 
relief — though, it must be .acknowledged, her 
condition was never very hopeful, but, on the 
contrary, I may say with the poet, she was only 
" half made up." It is plain to be seen that she 
was never finished. She has never paid for her- 
self An overwhelming public debt now rests 
upon her shoulders, and she has nothing to show 
for it. She is bankrupt. Her resources are being 
rapidly exhausted, and there is but lank promise 
in the future. Her spacious harbors and geo- 
graphical position are her true wealth ; her gold 
fields and arid hills are her poverty. But com- 


modious and safe as are lier harbors when once 
entered, they are not the easiest nor safest of 
access in the world, as I shall hereafter prove by 
statistics of vessels wrecked upon this coast 
Avithin the last six years. And, before I finish, 
I shall offer other statistical information of in- 
terest and importance relative to the State at 
large, in substantiation as well of what I have 
already said as of that which I have yet to say. 
I may remark here that, my curiosity having 
led me to collect and prepare these statistics 
with no little care and attention, and at no 
trifling sacrifice of time and means^ they may 
be relied upon as correct. 

A residence of nearly three years, during which 
time I have traveled over a wide extent of those 
parts of the State which are most highly esteemed 
for agriculture and minerals, lias, I claim, en- 
abled me to arrive at a pretty accurate estimate 
of her character and capacities ; and I have no 
hesitation in avowing it as my candid oi)inion 
(and 1 have not been a very inattentive observer) 
that, balancing resource against defect, and com- 
paring territory with territory, California is the 
poorest State in tlie Union. She has little to 
recommend her except lier fascinating metal, the 
acquisition of which, however, in its first or 
natural state, seems always to require a greater 
sacrifice of moral and physical wealth than a 
single exchange of it afterwards can possibly 


restore. I kmnv It lias been ]niblisluHl to the 
world that this eouiitry possesstv^ extraonlinarv 
agrioultiirul abilities: but this is an assertion 
wholly gratuitous, and not snseeptible of demon- 
stration. Taken altogether, it is no sueh thing. 
Some of her valleys are, indeed, exeeedingly fer- 
tile ; but, when we eompare their snpertieies with 
the area of the State, wo tiiul they are but as 
oases in a desert. 1 seriously believe that a fair 
and thorough trial will show that she has more 
than three times as mueli sterile land, in propor- 
tion to her territory, than any oi' her sister States. 
On an average, a S(|nare rood of Carolina earth 
contains as much fertilizing nutriment as an acre 
of Calitbrnia soil. Comparatively speaking, she 
has neither season nor soil. 

No rain falls between the first of April and 
the middle of November, in consequence of which 
the earth heeomes so dry and hard that nothing 
will grow : and the small amount of grass, weeds, 
or other vegetation that may have shot up in the 
spring, is parched by the seorehing sun until it 
is rendered as easy of ignition as prepared fuel. 
The valleys abovo mentioned are the only spots 
exempt from this eurse. On the other hand, from 
the tirst of December to the last of March it rains, 
as a general thing, so copiously and incessantly, 
that all ont-iloor avocations must be suspended ; 
and as there is no mechanical or in-door labor, 
either of use or profit, to be performed, the people 


aro siil)jocto(l to llio diflagreeahle and ox[)oriHivc 
taKk of'idlirif^ away tlioir time in liDtfjln and roH- 
taiirantH, at tlio rate of from two to tlircrMlollarH 
por day for hoard alono, otlier expenses Loing in 
tlio Ranio rjitio. More of t\\(i disad vantages of 
tliiH unfortunate inconsiHtency of the seasons, 
and of tlie paucity of resources of ernphiyrnent 
liere, will he noticed as we proceed. As for the 
valleys we have spoken of, they will afford a suf- 
ficient supply of hreadstuffs to support sparse 
scittlements, })ut the average or general surface 
of the country is inca[)ahle of sustaining a dense 

If we infjuire after the manufacturing and me- 
chanical resources of the State, we will find that 
she has none whatever ; in this respect she is as 
destitute as the ahoriginal settlements of America. 
Nor can she estahlish, encourage or maintain 
these arts, for the reason that she would he under 
the necessity of importing, not only the ma- 
chinery and raw materials, hut also the fuel. 
She could not, therefore, compete with neighbor- 
ing States, whicli have at least some of these in- 
dispensable requisites. Nor has she any advan- 
tages or facilities for either water or steam power. 
How, then, can she obtain a re|)utation for man- 
ufactures and mechanism, having neither the 
material to work, nor the force or means to work 
with ? She has neither cotton nor flax, coal nor 
tim])er. She is rich in nothing, and poor in 



every thing. She has to import every thing she 
uses, hut has notliing to export, except lier gold, 
which, instead of being a blessing to her, is a 
curse. Even the ground she cultivates she has 
to inclose with imported fencing wire, not having 
timber suitable for railing or paling purposes. 
Tliat which is esteemed her chief treasure, de- 
pendence and commodity, gold, seems to be the 
least subservient to her advancement and pros- 
perity; for, comparatively speaking, she sends 
it all away, and retains none for home use 
or convenience; and thus it is that she has, 
in a measure, been a benefit to others, wdiile she 
has blindly and foolishly impoverished herself. 
In this she has acted upon the principle of the 
cobbler, whose shoes are ever tattered, and of 
the blacksmith, whose liorses always go unshod. 
But this profuse exportation of gold is signifi- 
cant of anotlier important fact, while at the 
same time it demonstrates what I have said 
above. It shows conclusively that there is no 
inducement to invest capital permanently in this 
country, either in the prosecution of business or 
in tlie establishment of homes or residences. 
Immigrants find neitlier beauty nor gain to hold 
them heie ; and I feel warranted in venturing 
the assertion that not more than ten per cent, of 
the population are satisfied to remain. Of the 
other ninety per cent., the bodies only subsist 
here — their hearts abide in better climes ; and 


tliey are anxiously waiting and wishing for the 
time when they shall have an opportunity of 
releasing themselves from the golden fetters 
which detain them, and escaping from a country 
which, with all its wealth, is to them a dr;eary 
prison. Only a small minority of the few who 
are lucky enough, by fair means or foul, to ac- 
cumulate fortune or competence, are induced 
to identify their lives and interests with the 

But the women are almost unanimous in their 
determination not to make California any thing 
more than a temporary residence ; and they have 
good reasons for this resolution. Besides the 
social depravity to which I shall presently allude, 
and which is sufficient to shock the sensibilities 
of any man of ordinary morality, there are hosts 
of minor annoyances, resulting from the climate 
and the geographical position of the country, 
that inflict peculiar pain upon female sensi- 
bilities. The mud, which is often knee-deep, 
keeps them imprisoned all the winter ; while, in 
summer, the dust, as fine as flour and as abun- 
dant as earth itself, stifles the inhabitants, fills 
the houses, penetrates into every nook and cor- 
ner, finds its way even into the inner drawers 
and chests, soils the wardrobe, spoils the furni- 
ture, and sullies every thing. Besides, Califor- 
nia is especially infested with vermin. Fleas, 
ants, and all sorts of creeping things are as 

22 CALiFORNrA un\t:iled. 

uhiqiiitoiis as those tliat tornieuted Fliaraoli and 
liis ])eople, and quite as annoying. No house is 
free from tliem, no one can escape the perpetual 
martyrdom of tlieir stings, or tlie annoyance of 
theiv presence. As the ladies are the special 
sufferers from these abominable little nuisances, 
their unanimous dislike of the country is not at 
all to be wondered at. In proof of this una- 
nimity, I can only offer the fact tliat, in conver- 
sation witb quite a number of women who have 
resided in this State, I have yet to meet with 
one who is willing to make it her permanent 

We have alluded to the winds, because they 
really are a peculiar feature in the meteorology 
of this State. In the summer time they blow 
with peculiar violence, and facilitate the spread 
of the great fires from which California has 
sullered so much. 




Let us now take a glance at the pros and cons 
of California in statistical form. I have said 
that the State is bankrupt, that she has never 
returned an equivalent for the labor and money 
invested in her, and that she has been repre- 
sented to be a great deal more than she is in 
reality — all of which I now reiterate, and shall 
endeavor to demonstrate. To make out a per- 
fect and com])lete account-current, or balance- 
sheet, exhibiting the State's entire gains and 
losses of time, labor, life, money, etc., would 
require such a profound knowledge of financial 
affairs, and of political economy, that it would 
puzzle Adam Smith himself; we will not, there- 
fore, attempt accuracy or exactness, but, having 
sufficient data to sustain us in our position, we 
will ])roceed to make it known. 

Without charging California with any of the 
enormous expenses of the Mexican war, or the 
check given to the increase of population which 
that war occasioned, we will simply make her 
debtor for the amount of purchase-money that 
was paid for her, and for the various sums it has 


cost to control, manage and maintain lier since. 
And, to avoid that complication and multiplicity 
of entries that would inevitably result from an 
introduction of all the individuals, parties or 
countries that have had dealings with the State, 
and as a matter of convenience, we will assume 
that there shall he hut two parties recognized in 
the transaction, one of debit and one of credit — 
California and the United States. This will be 
treating the subject as a matter of dollars and 
cents, and will enable us to see how much has 
been made or lost, as the case may be, out of 
this Eureka venture or speculation. 

In the first place, then, California is debtor to 
the United States for her quota of the amount of 
purchase-money paid to Mexico for herself and for 
New Mexico, including contingent fund absorbed 
by Mexican claimants, as per agreement at the 
treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo, §10,OaO,000. In 
the next place, let us see how much she is in- 
debted to the United States for labor. At the 
present time,, her population is estimated at 
about two hundred and fifty thousand. It is but 
little greater now than it was in 1849. In '51 
and '52 it was larger than it was or has been at 
any preceding or subsequent period. It would 
probably be fair to estimate the average popula- 
tion at two hundred and fifty thousand for the 
last six years ; of this number, it is supposed 
that from thirty to thirty-five thousand are 


women and children, who have become residents 
of the State within the last three or four years. 
Admitting, then, that there are thirty-five thou- 
sand women and children, and deducting this 
number from two hundred and fifty thousand, 
we have a balance of two hundred and fifteen 
thousand men, whose service for six years, at 
say $225 per annum for each man, amounts to 
$290,230,000. The outfits and passage of these 
men — to say nothing of the women and children 
— cost, at the lowest calculation, $200 per head ; 
so we find that the expense of transporting the ac- 
tual laborers alone has been at least $43,000,000. 
We may afford to let this latter amount rest as 
it is ; but when we take into consideration the 
fact that the steamers are continually crowded 
with persons returning from California, and that 
their places are filled by new emigrants, who 
have to purchase new passage-tickets and new 
outfits, it is quite obvious that the figures ex- 
press much less than the real amount. The 
above sums added together constitute the United 
States' charge against California. We will add 
them together, and then compare the total sum 
with the amount of gold that has been produced 
in California. 

Original cost of the country $10,000,000 

Labor 290,230,000 

Outfits and transportation 43,000,000 

Grand total $343, 130,000 



Tims we see California is debtor to the United 
States three hundred and forty-three millions 
two hundred and thirty thousand dollars. Now 
let us examine the account which California 
brings as an offset to this amount. The entire 
yield of the mines up to the present time, Janu- 
ary, 1855, has been about two hundred and forty- 
five millions of dollars. And this is all. We 
cannot credit her with any thing else that would 
not be equipoised or balanced by the capital, 
whether owned or borrowed, brought hither from 
various parts of the Avorld, and invested in busi- 
ness and improvements, and about which no- 
thing has been said in the bill of charges. Here, 
then, is the sum and substance of the whole 
matter : 

The United States account against California. ..$343,230,000 
California's account against the United States. . 245,000,000 

Deficit $98, 230,000 

And now let us see how much money has been 
lost in and about California by casualties, acci- 
dents and mismanagement. The reader shall 
judge whether any part of the amount should be 
charged to the State. As for us, we shall simply 
feel it our duty to furnish the statistics. In re- 
gard to the expenses of Fremont's Battalion, of 
the Army of Occupation in '47 and '48, and of 
the wars since waged against the Indians — 
amounting in all to several millions of dollars, 
we will say nothing. 


In the annexed table is an account of the va- 
rious fires that have occurred throughout the 
State. It will be perceived that the date of oc- 
currence and amount of property destroyed are 
both given. 


Fire in San Francisco, December 24, 1849 $1,000,000 

''^ May 4, 1850 3,500,000 

" June 14, 1850 3,000,000 

'' September 17, 1850 450,000 

'' December 14, 1850 1,000,000 

" May 3, 1851 12,000,000 

'' June 22, 1851 3,000,000 

" November 9, 1852 125,000 

" Sundry fires in 1853 265,000 

Fire in Sacramento, November 2, 1852 10,000,000 

Sonora, June 18, 1852 2,500,000 

" October 14, 1853 300,000 

" November 2, 1853 50,000 

Stockton, May 6, 1851 3,000,000 

Marysville, August 30, 1851 500,000 

" September 10, 1851 80,000 

'' November 7, 1852 150,000 

Shasta, February 8, 1853 225,000 

Nevada, March 10, 1851 200,000 

Weaverville, March Y, 1853 125,000 

Sundry fires in different parts of the State, dates unob- 
tainable 4,400,000 

Freshets and inundations, in the Sacramento and San 
Joaquin valleys, have swept off or destroyed one 
million five hundred thousand dollars worth of 
property within the last six years $1,500,000 




The following: sailini]: vessels and steamers 
have heeii wrecked upon the coast within tlie 
same period : 


Ship Tonquia— December, 1849 1 

" Crownpriucessen — February, 1850 

" Utica— July, 1850 

* ' Somerset — December, 1850 

" Oxford— July, 1852 

" Aberdeeu — July, 1853 

** Carrier Pigeon — June, 1853 

*' Eclipse— October, 1853 

*' Jenny Lind — December, 1853 

" San Francisco — February, 1854... 


Commodore Preble — May 3, 1850 

Union — July 5, 1851 

Chesapeake — October, 1851 

Sea Gull— January 26, 1852 

Gen. Warren — .Tanuary 31, 1852 

North America — February 27, 1852 

Pioneer — August IT. 1852 

City of Pittsburg— October 24, 1852 

Independence — February 10, 1853 

Tennessee — March 6, 1853 

S. S. Lewis— April 9, 1853 

Washington — 1853 

Commodore Stockton — 1852 

Wintield Scott — December 2 

Sundry steamers and sailer: 

been misplaced 

8 50.000 














. 850.000 

The present public debt of the State — entailed upon the 
people by one of the most imbecile and dissolute 
legislatures that were ever assembled in an enlight- 
ened country — is three millions of dollars $3,000,000 


the names of which have 


The debts of the tlircc principal cities arc as follows : 
Tlie total amount of the indebtedness of vSan Fran- 
cisco is $3,342,000. The debt of the city of Sacra- 
mento amounts to $1,500,000. The entire debt of 
the city of Marysville amounts to over $70,000. . .$4,912,000 

Total $00,342,000 


Fires $45, 870,000 

Freshets 1 , 500, 000 

Shipi)inj^ 5,000,000 

State debt 3,000,000 

City debt 4,012,000 


These figures show the amount of property 
tliat has heen destroyed, or the amount of losses 
tliat liave heen sustained in California, hy acci- 
dents, misliaps and mismanagement, within tlie 
last six years. I will, moreover, give a list of 
lives lost hy violent measures during the same 
period : 

Murders 4, 200 

Suicides 1, 400 

Insanity, (produced by disapi)ointment and misfortune)... 1,700 
Wrecked and perished on the way per sailing vessels and 

steamers 2, 200 

Killed by Indians and died of starvation per overland route, 1,G00 
Perished in the mines and mountains of the State for want 
of medical attention and food, and by the hands of the 
Indians 5,300 

Total 16, 400 

It may he urged that the State ought not to he 
held accountahle for any nuinher of these sixteen 


thousand four hundred unfortunates, who, for the 
lack of law and order in a majority of the cases, 
lost tlieir lives by violent means. We leave the 
question entirely with the reader. It may also 
be urged that the State ought not to be charged 
with any part of the extraordinary losses by fire 
and shipwreck, notwithstanding foreign capital- 
ists were the principal sufferers in both cases. 
Til is question we also submit to the decision of 
the reader. 

But I deem it unnecessary to dwell on this part 
of my subject. In presenting the foregoing cal- 
culations, it has been my aim to show that Cali- 
fornia is a country of unparalleled casualties and 
catastrophes, and to direct attention to the im- 
mense losses which have been sustained in open- 
ing its mines of wealth. A large number of 
people, it seems, have got into the habit of esti- 
mating the gains without taking into considera- 
tion the cost or losses at all; and there are those, 
no doubt, who will attempt to find fault with the 
account whicli I have drawn up between Califor- 
nia and the United States. Though that account 
is in the main correct, I admit that slight errors 
may here and there exist; for, as I remarked at 
the outset, the debits and credits are so numerous, 
and of such an intricate nature, that it would be 
impossible to arrive at the exact amounts without 
the greatest research and elaboration. If I have 
succeeded in undeceiving those who have hereto- 


fore regarded California as an unincumbered 
God-send, my object has been attained. I have 
endeavored to show that, though there has been 
a great deal of gold obtained in the country, it is 
not all clear gain, and that notwithstanding there 
are large deposits of pure metal, there are also 
huge masses of dross. Shallow enthusiasts have 
asserted that the United States would have be- 
come bankrupt two or three years ago, had it not 
been for the discovery of gold in California. A 
more preposterous opinion was never entertained. 
Equally as much wisdom might be found in the 
assertion that Great Britain would have been sold 
by the sheriff, if gold had not been discovered in 
Australia. As a further proof of the beggarly 
condition of the country, it may not be amiss to 
remark that, during the last session of Congress, 
the general government appropriated upwards of 
four millions of dollars for the relief and benefit 
of California ; and her senators and representa- 
tives are still clamoring for additional favors. 

For the benefit of the reader, and in confirma- 
tion of statements made in this chapter relative 
to the past and present of California, I give the 
following extract from the Louisville Journal, to 
which my attention has been called since the 
foregoing calculations and statistics were pre- 



" For the information of those persons who be- 
lieve that the United States thus far have been 
benefited by the discovery of gold in California, 
we propose to submit a few remarks and calcula- 

''After the close of the Mexican war and the 
cession by treaty to us of Upper California, the 
world was astonished by the announcement, to- 
ward the close of 1848 or the beginning of 1849, 
that immense deposits of gold had been discov- 
ered in that country. As soon as the truth of 
this report was established, vast numbers of per- 
sons, young and old, flocked to that country. 
There was a perfect stampede of people from 
every State in the Union. Property was sacri- 
ficed to raise money with which to reach this El- 
dorado, where fortunes for all were supposed to 
be awaiting the mere effort to gather them. The 
first injurious effect on the country was the sud- 
den withdrawal of so much labor from the chan- 
nels of production ; it was mainly, too, that de- 
scription most needed here — that is, agricultural 

"We are not in possession of the statistics re- 
quisite to determine with exactness the number 
of persons who have been taken from the old 
States and have gone to California. The popu- 
lation of that State now exceeds two hundred 
thousand. But as there is a constant stream of 


people always in transitu, either going to or 
leaving that country, the number of people with- 
drawn from the business of productive labor 
largely exceeds the population of that State. It 
is not our purpose to over-estimate the amount 
of labor that has been withdrawn from the old 
States, but we feel satisfied that it will be under 
rather than over the mark to say that from 1849 
to 1854, each year inclusive, there has been an 
average of 150,000 persons who have been during 
that time either in California or on their way 
going or returning. The time is six years for 
150,000 persons, or one year for 900,000 persons. 
"Now, if we estimate the average value of this 
labor at |25 per month each, or |300 per year, 
we have ($270,000,000) two hundred and seventy 
millions of dollars as the value of the labor taken 
from the eastern side of the Kocky Mountains 
and placed on its western side. In addition to 
this, it cost on an average $200 per head as the 
expenses of the removal from one country to the 
other. This makes ($180,000,000) one hundred 
and eighty millions of dollars as the cost of re- 
moval. The sums together make the sum total 
of ($450,000,000) four hundred and fifty millions 
of dollars drained from the eastern side of the 
United States. To ascertain the amount of the 
gold obtained from that country, we propose to 
take the gold coinage of the mint. This coinage 
was in — 


1849 $9,00Y,t61 

1850 31,981,738 

1851 62,614,492 

1852 $56,846,18Y 

1853 46,998,945 

1854, estimated.... 42,000,000 

Total coinage $249,349, 123 

"As these figures make the sum total of all the 
gold coined at the mint, and a portion of it is 
known to have been obtained from other sources 
than California, the credit will rather be in ex- 
cess than too small ; but still we propose to add 
to this amount twenty millions more as an al- 
lowance for unminted gold sold to workers in 
jeweliy and plate and which has been consumed 
in the arts. The statement will then stand thus: 

California, Dr. 

To labor and outfits $450,000,000 

Credit bj product of gold coin and nature 269,349,223 

Dr. balance $180,650, 87 7 

" This shows that there is a balance dice us in 
lost labor and capital of over one hundred and 
eighty millions of dollars, 

" So far as California is concerned, it is proba- 
ble that this deficiency is replaced there by the 
value of property, real and personal, which the 
labor taken from this region of country has pro- 
duced there. 

"The injurious effect of this vast emigration 
has been felt in the undue stimulus it has given 
to the prices of produce, induced by diminished 
production and increased demand. 


" Another bad effect of this gold crop has been 
the influence it has exerted in stimulating ex- 
cessive importations of foreign goods. In the 
last six years the imports will exceed the exports 
three hundred and three millions of dollars. 
Commencing in 1849 with an import trade of 
only seven millions of nominal balance against 
this country^ it rapidly increased, until, in each 
of the past two years, it has exceeded sixty mil- 
lions of dollars/' 




Having looked into the financial condition of 
California, let us now briefly consider the moral 
and religious state of its society. We know that 
we are undertaking an ungrateful and painful 
task— that we shall awaken the animosity of 
those who have an interest in enticing settlers 
to this golden region — that we shall provoke 
contradiction, and probably excite controversy ; 
but we beseech Heaven to pardon us for speaking 
the truth, and challenge our antagonists to dis- 
prove our statements. 

"We cannot, indeed, pretend to disclose all the 
terrible iniquity of that society in the compass 
of a single chapter — the theme is too extensive, 
the facts too revolting. It requires space to un- 
fold the scroll which records such damning facts 
— it needs time for the mind to become suffi- 
ciently reconciled to the hideous details, to be 
able to listen to them without impatience or dis- 
gust. We can, at present, do no more than open 
the way for a fuller exposition of the subject in 
subsequent chapters. Suffice it to say that we 
know of no country in which there is so much 


corruption, villainy, outlawry, intemperance, 
licentiousness, and every variety of crime, folly 
and meanness. Words fail us to express the 
shameful depravity and unexampled turpitude 
of California society. 

How much of this is attributable to the metal 
which attracts the population, we leave others 
to determine. One thing, however, is certain ; 
mining districts do not generally enjoy a very 
enviable reputation in any part of the world. 
Gold, especially, is thought to be so easily acces- 
sible, and the return of the miner's labor is so 
immediately visible, that it has ever attracted 
the most unthrifty and dissolute. Men who 
could not be induced to work at any thing else, 
will spend days and weeks delving for the pre- 
cious bane, hoping against hope, and laboring 
with an eager energy which nothing else can 
excite, and almost any thing else would more 
surely reward. Hence, the immediate neighbor- 
hood of a gold-mine is too liable to be a sink for 
all the idleness and depravity of the surrounding 
country. How these evils are multiplied by the 
absence of individual proprietorship in the land, 
and by the remoteness of a mining district from 
the beneficial restraints of public opinion, any 
one who gives a moment's consideration to the 
subject will perceive. 

The exclusive devotion of labor to this one 
pursuit is another cause of increased laxity of 


morals. In the Atlantic States, gold-mining is 
only a branch of industry, and not a very im- 
portant one, compared with the other pursuits 
of the population ; but in California it is the 
chief and almost the only occupation of the in- 
habitants of the mining districts; so that while, 
in the former place, the general virtue of the 
people keeps in check the particular vices of the 
miner, in the latter, the good intentions of the 
few are overruled and stifled by the vices of the 

We must not, however, commit the mistake of 
supposing that all the depravity of California is 
attributable to the nature of its industrial pur- 
suits. This is but one of the elements which 
assist in producing the deplorable state of affairs 
under consideration. There are others which 
spring from the character of the people, and the 
circumstances which have brought them to- 

It must be borne in mind that all the adven- 
turers to this country have come for the express 
purpose of making money, and that to this end 
every other consideration is sacrificed. They 
have come to '' put money in their purses," and 
as a large majority of them are of a class who are 
rarely troubled by any qualms of conscience, they 
are determined to do it at all hazards. Mammon 
is their god, and they will worship him. 

If it be deemed desirable to make further in- 


qiiiries into this state of things, it is only neces- 
sary to phihisophize a little upon tlie physical 
structure of society. A single glance at it will 
suffice to convince the most superficial obsei-ver 
that its ingredients cannot he compounded into 
a harmonious, perfect and complete whole. Will 
a panther from America, a bear from Europe, a 
tiger from A^ia, and a lion from Africa, organize 
in peace and good feeling around the body of a 
fresh slain deer ? If not, will the Americans, 
English, French, Grermans, Chinese, Indians, 
Negroes, and half-breeds, greet each other cor- 
dially over a gold mine ? These are problems 
which those who have leisure may solve as their 
reason dictates. In the present case, it is more 
my province to relate the condition of things, 
than to account for their existence; yet, in pre- 
j^aring statements upon a variety of intricate 
subjects, owing sometimes to the difficulty of 
making one's self understood, it is both consist- 
ent and proper that, now and then, a few re- 
marks in the way of explanation should be 

Another very important cause of this wild 
excitement, degeneracy, dissipation, and deplo- 
rable condition of affairs, may be found in the 
disproportion of tlie sexes — in the scarcity of wo- 
men. At present, tliere is onl}^ about one wonian 
to every ten or twelve men, and tlie result is what 
might be expected. The women are persecuted 


by the insulting attentions of the men, and too 
often fall victims to the arts of their seducers. 
Nowhere is the sanctity of the domestic hearth 
so ruthlessly violated as in California. For proof 
of this, we need look no further than the records 
of the courts of San Francisco, which show that, 
in the course of a single week, no less than ten 
divorces had been granted, while, during the 
same time, only two marriages had been solem- 
nized I 

Not long since, an English gentleman, of 
w^hom myself and others had purchased some 
real estate in this city, came to me, requesting 
that, inasmuch as his wife had left him the day 
before, we would not let her have any money on 
his account. After finishing his business in- 
structions, he gave us the following history. 
Listen to it. Said he : " Four years ago, myself 
and wife, and six other men with their wives, 
came together in one vessel to this country. 
Shortly after our arrival, family feuds and jeal- 
ousies became rife in the domestic circle of one 
of the parties. The man and his wife sepa- 
rated. Soon their example was followed by an- 
other couple, and another, and so on, until all 
the marriage ties of our company were broken, 
except those that happily existed between my- 
self and wife. Left alone thus, and having been 
true to each other so long, and through so many 
opposing circumstances, I cherished the hope 


that we might remain together, and be true to 
the end. But, alas! my fond thoughts and anti- 
cipations have proved a sickly dream. My hopes 
have been blasted, my happiness wrecked, and 
my children disgraced and deserted. My wife, 
whom I loved and held dearer than all else on 
earth, the partner of my life, has been basely 
seduced. The last link that bound the remnant 
of our seven families together has been severed, 
and the consequence is, we are a disbanded and 
disreputable people. Cursed be the day and the 
incentive that started me to this damnable coun- 
try!" These were his own words, almost ver- 
batim ; and he uttered them as if partly speaking 
to himself, and partly addressing me. 

The total disregard of the marriage tie by the 
majority of the men of California puts the hus- 
band, who is foolish enough to take his wife 
with him to that countr}^, in a painful and em- 
barrassing position. Should the wife be pretty, 
she is the more liable to the persecution of atten- 
tions which will shock her if she be virtuous, 
and flatter her into sin if she is not. She is sur- 
rounded at once by hosts of men, who spare 
neither money, time, nor art to win her affec- 
tions from her husband. What wonder if they 
often succeed ? 

Female virtue or chastity, in the conventional 

sense of the word, is known to every one, who is 

familiar with the internal history of society, to 


be a very complex idea. There are women who 
are chaste only for want of the opportunity to be 
otherwise. There are others who are kept chaste 
by the force of public apinion, the dread of ex- 
posure, and the general fear of consequences ; 
while a third class preserve their persons un- 
tainted by an innate purity of soul, which shrinks 
instinctively from all indelicacy, and feels con- 
taminated by an unclean thought, and degraded 
by a lustful look. It is not our business to in- 
quire into the relative proportion of women em- 
braced in these three classes. It is enough to 
know that they exist, to appreciate the effect 
which the society of California will exert u2:)on 

As for the first class, it is not necessary to 
speak of them. They fulfil their shameful des- 
tiny every where, and California only ripens 
their depravity a little earlier. It is the second 
class who suifer chiefly from the peculiar moral 
atmosphere of the land of gold. In the Atlantic 
States, hedged in by a herJthy public opinion, 
guarded by jealous laws, flattered into chastity 
by the respectful attentions which that virtue 
ever commands, they might retain to their dy- 
ing day that physical purity which satisfies the 
great majority of husbands. In California, how- 
ever, these restraints are all removed. Public 
opinion arrays itself on the side of vice ; the 
laws are powerless to punish the sins of impu- 


rity ; and all the attentions the women receive 
are based upon the hope of their ultimate fall. 
How are such women to resist? Cut loose at 
once from all those restraints which kept them 
in the right way^ will they not dart off into the 
devious paths of error and of sin? It is impos- 
sible that it should be otherwise ; and the man 
who would keep faithful to liimself a wife of this 
type in California, must have wealth enough to 
gratify her most extravagant whims, time to 
devote exclusively to watching her, eyes keener 
than those of Argus, and cunning sharper than 
that of Vidocq. 

The third class — of whom, I regret to say, I 
have met with but few in the Eureka State — ■ 
have also peculiar trials to undergo. Society in 
that country is a reproduction, on a large scale, 
of the morals of the courts of Charles II of 
England and Louis XV of France. Vice only is 
esteemed and lauded, virtue is treated as an idle 
dream, an insulting pretence of superiority, or a 
stupid folly beneath the notice of men of sense. 
People do not believe in it — they scorn it, they 
insult it ; they consider it a mere avaricious at- 
tempt to dispose of venal charms above their 
market value, so that the chaste woman has not 
only to suflFer the persecution of insulting pro- 
posals, but the doubt of that virtue which repels 
her pursuers, and the sneers and scandal of a 
depraved and debased community. 


Many women, of conceded respectability in 
California, seem to have come out there for the 
exclusive purpose of selling their charms to the 
highest bidder. Others, of more honest hearts, 
have fallen victims to the peculiar seductions of 
the place, but I must be allowed to pay a tribute 
to the sex, even in this its degenerate condition. 
Paradoxical as the statement may sound, it is 
rigorously true that these very women have im- 
proved the morals of the community. Any one 
who, like myself, has had the opportunity of 
seeing California before and after the advent of 
these Av^omen, must have been struck with the 
decided improvement in society since their arri- 
val. They have undoubtedly banished much 
barbarism, softened many hard hearts, and given 
a gentleness to the men which they did not pos- 
sess before. What, then, might we not expect 
from an influx of the chaste wives and tender 
mothers that bless our other seaboard ? 




We will now pay our respects to the occidental 
metropolis of the United States^, sometimes hon- 
ored with the title of the Queen City of the Pa- 

It has not been more truthfully remarked that 
Paris is France, than that San Francisco is Cali- 
fornia. This is the grand mart in which all the 
travel, news, capital, business, and, in fact, every 
species of interest or employment that belongs 
to the State is concentrated — the nucleus around 
which every plan and project must first be de- 
veloped before it can receive life, vigor, system 
and order. It is the fountain-head of all the 
tributaries of trade and traffic that flow through 
the State — the great trestle-board or chart of 
operations to which all the journeymen repair 
for designs and instructions to pursue their la- 
bors. It is the supreme tribunal and regulator 
of affairs — the heart, the life, and the stay of the 
State. Contrary to the general rule, in this case 
the city supports the country, instead of the 
country nurturing and sustaining the city ; and 
this will continue to be the case so long as the 


country is under the necessity of importing what- 
ever she requires for use. Until she hecomes the 
producer of the bulk ^r major part of that which 
she consumes, San Francisco will retain this as- 
cendency. Every important movement, whether 
of a public, private, political or commercial char- 
acter, receives its impetus from this point ; and 
owing to its advantageous geographical position, 
and the facilities and accommodation offered for 
shipping, I tliink it may be safely said that San 
Francisco will be a great city, although Califor- 
nia can never become a great State. 

In order to particularize a little, and to furnish 
the reader with a more systematic idea of tlie 
city, we will imagine ourselves in a vessel, some 
distance at sea, approaching the coast of Califor- 
nia in about the lat. of 37° 45' N. and Ion. 122° 
25^ W. This will bring us to the Grolden Gate, 
the entrance to the harbor. This entrance is a 
narrow outlet, through which at least seven- 
eighths of the entire waters of the State find 
their way into the Pacific ocean. It can be so 
thoroughly fortified that no maritime expedition 
could ever force its way through it. 

Passing through the Gate, we enter the bay, 
and find it to be one of the largest and finest in 
the world, dotted with several small islands, and 
abounding in excellent fish of every variety. 
Soon we arrive at Long Wharf; the steamer is 
run alongside, and we are in the Eldorado of 


modern times. Around ns we beliold an innu- 
merable crowd of eager lookers-on, who have come 
down from the city to meet their wives, lovers, 
fathers, mothers, sisters, or brothers, as the case 
may be. The crowd is probably one of the most 
motley and heterogeneous that ever occupied 
space. It is composed of specimens of humanity 
from almost every clime and nation upon the hab- 
itable globe. Citizens from every State in the 
Union, North and South, Americans, French, 
English, Irish, Scotch, Germans, Dutch, Danes, 
Swedes, Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, Rus- 
sians, Poles, Greeks, Chinese, Japanese, Hindoos, 
Sandwich Islanders, New Zealanders, Indians, 
Africans, and hybrids — all stand before us. We 
see all grades and conditions, all ages and sexes, 
all colors and costumes, in short, a complete hu- 
man menag erie. 

By the sides of the wharves, and anchored in 
different parts of the commodious and noble bay, 
we see magnificent ships, barks and brigs from 
every nation of commercial note. But of all 
these majestic palaces of the deep, none are equal 
in beauty of design and finish, in grace, sym- 
metry and elegance, or in excellence of quality, 
to our own American clippers. Thinking that it 
might be of interest to some of my readers, as a 
specimen of American marine or naval nomen- 
clature, I have taken the pains to collect a ma- 
jority of the names of these oaken chariots of old 



Neptune that have from time to time entered the 
Golden Gate, freighted with merchandise from 
Atlantic ports. Some of the names are truly ap- 
propriate and poetic. Ten of them, as will be 
seen, have, as a prefix, the word ^^ Golden." I 
have arranged them in the subjoined list in al- 
phabetical order : 





Bald Eagle, 

Belle of Baltimore, 








Dancing Feather, 

Dashing Wave, 



Don Quixotte, 


Empress of the Seas, 



Flying Arrow, 

Flying Childers, 

Flying Cloud, 

Flying Dragon, 

Flying Dutchman, 

Flying Eagle, 

Flying Fish, 

Game Cock, 


Gem of the Ocean, 

Golden Age, 

Golden City, 

Golden Eagle, 

Golden Fleece, 

Golden Gate, 

Golden Light, 

Golden Racer, 

Golden Rule, 

Golden State, 

Golden West, 

Gray Eagle, 

Gray Feather, 

Gray Hound, 

Herald of the Morning, 







John Gilpin, 

King Fisher, 



National Eagle, 
Neptune's Car, 
Northern Crown, 
Ocean Pearl, 
Ocean Spray, 
Olive Branch, 
Queen of Clippers, 
Queen of the Pacific, 
Queen of the Seas, 
Eed Rover, 
Ring Leader, 
Rip Van Winkle, 
Rover's Bride, 
Sea Serpent, 
Seaman's Bride, 
Shooting Star, 
Light Foot, 
Living Age, 
Morning Light, 
Mountain Wave, 




Southern Cross, 


Stag Hound, 

Storm King, 

Sun Beam, 


Sword Fish, 


Tam O'Shanter, 




Trade Wind, 




Western Star, 

Westward Ho ! 

West Wind, 


White Squall, 

White Swallow, 

Wide Awake, 

Wild Duck, 

Wild Pigeon, 

Wild Ranger, 

Winged Racer, 

Wings of the Morning, 

Witch of the Wave, 





Leaving the vicinity of the shipping, we wend 
our way towards the heart of the city. As we 
proceed, we ohserve many ohjects of interest that 
deserve more attention than we can bestow upon 
them at this time. 

Degradation, profligacy and vice confront us 
at every step. Men are passing to and fro with 
haggard visages and heads declined, muttering 
to themselves, and looking as hungry and fero- 
cious as the prowling beasts of an Asiatic jungle. 
Before us on either side, we see a group of boys, 
clad in slouched hats, dirty shirts, ragged pants, 
and shabby shoes, without socks, who have no 
regular business. Sometimes they sell newspa- 
pers in the morning, and in the middle of the 
day engage in various occupations, as, for in- 
stance, in peddling fruits, nuts and toys. At 
this time several of them seem to have met by 
chance, and they have stopped to discuss the 
times and the progress of events. If we were 
near enough, we should probably hear the right 
hand party criticising Madame Anna Thillon's 
last performance of the opera of La Somnambula, 
or of the Daughter of the Kegiment ; and those 
on the left giving their opinions upon the merits" 
of Madame Anna Bishop's last oratorio or ballad 
concert. After disposing of all the actors and 
actresses in music, opera, pantomime, tragedy 
and comedy, or, perhaps, after bragging of the 
successes of certain amours or other youthful de- 


pravitieSj they rally together, and entering the 
nearest groggery, one calls for a brandy smash, 
another for a whiskey punch, a third for a gin 
cocktail, and so on, until all are served. Then, 
bowing to each other, they drink to the pros- 
perity of Young America, to which school they 
all belong ; and dashing their glasses upon the 
counter with as hideous and vociferous anathe- 
mas as ever passed the lips of an East India 
pirate, they separate, segar in mouth, and return 
to their respective avocations. Not unfrequently 
these vicious youths repeat their potations so 
often that they become thoroughly inebriated, 
and may be seen quarreling, fighting, and lying 
about the streets like hardened and inveterate 

The bales and stacks of hay and straw piled 
upon some of the wharves, deserve a passing 
glance, since they form the sleeping apartments 
of dozens of penniless vagabonds who are always 
wandering about the city in idleness and misery, 
and have no other place to rest, no bed to sleep 
upon, except these out-door packages of proven- 
der, into which they creep for shelter and slum- 
ber during the long hours of the night. 

Continuing our perambulations in a westerly 
direction, we find ourselves at the foot of Com- 
mercial street, which runs almost due east and 
west through the centre of the city. This street 
we will pass up, paying attention as we proceed 


to some of the irregularities and peculiarities 
which distin-guish San Francisco from other 
cities, and California from other countries. The 
first houses we see are from one to two stories in 
height, and are built of red wood, a very light 
combustible kind of timber that resembles the 
spruce or cedar. Oregon produces nearly all the 
building materials out of which these and most 
other houses and tenements in California are 
constructed ; and I have been credibly informed 
that the red wood and fir trees in that territory 
grow from two hundred and fifty to three hun- 
dred feet high, and proportionally thick. In 
some of the remote and comparatively inaccessi- 
ble parts of California these varieties of timber 
are also found, and are said to acquire the same 
gigantic bulk. 

Most of the buildings in this part of the street 
are tenanted by those mysterious and avaricious 
characters whose arrival in this, as well as in 
other places, is always as inexplicable as that of 
the flies in summer, and whose exit is equally as 
unceremonious as that of the swallows in winter 
— no one knowing whence they came or whither 
they go — the Jews, those nomades of civilization. 
These erratic and money-loving descendants of 
the ancient biblical patriarchs seem to follow in 
the wake of all adventurous Christians and gen- 
tiles who wear those convenient articles of appa- 
rel denominated ready-made clothes. Preferring 


to travel the way after it is once opened, they 
are seldom known as the pioneers of a new coun- 
try ; and claiming to be conservative in their 
principles and opposed to aggression, they pro- 
fess disinclination to encroach upon foreign ter- 
ritory ; but after the battles are fought with the 
forest, the wild beasts, or the biped enemy, and 
peace and security established, they are ever 
ready to come in and partake of whatever ad- 
vantages may have been attained. So it has been 
in California, so it is yet, and so it will always 
be here and every where else, with these home- 
less and migratory people. 

They do not employ any of their time or means 
in advancing the permanent and substantial in- 
terests of the country. None of them engage in 
any sort of manual labor, except, perhaps, that 
which is of the most trivial and unmanly nature, 
such, for instance, as the manufacturing of jew- 
elry and haberdashery. Mining, the cultivation 
of the soil, in a word, any occupation that re- 
quires exposure to the weather, is too fatiguing 
and intolerable for them. The law requiring 
man to get bread by the sweat of his brow, is an 
injunction with which they refuse to comply. It 
is a tax they are unwilling to pay — an enigma 
beyond their comprehension — they will not sweat. 
Dealing in ready-made clothing appears to be 
their peculiar forte; and this is about the only 
thing they follow in San Francisco — as I think 


it may be said to be their principal pursuit 
wherever they go, when they have not the means 
to set themselves up as pawn-brokers or note- 

We observe that they have presumptuously 
usurped or occupied from four to six feet of the 
way on either side of the street, by building lit- 
tle wooden racks and projections in front of their 
stores, for the purpose of making a more con- 
spicuous display of their marketable vestments 
in dry weather. In any other place than Cali- 
fornia such unjust appropriations of the streets 
of a city would not be tolerated ; but here, where 
usurpation, illegality and confusion reign su- 
l^reme, no attention is paid to it. 

It has ever been the misfortune of the Jew to 
undergo the scorn and contumely of self-styled 
Christians, and indeed of all nations. Since the 
destruction of his ancient capital by the Romans, 
he has been an outcast in the world, the stand- 
ing butt of the Gentile's scoffs. California is no 
exception to this general rule. But little respect 
is shown him there ; and he is continually jeered 
by having applied to him such annoying epithets 
as Christ-killer, ham-hater and anti-pork-eater. 
But few of them have signs over their doors, as 
most men have who transact business upon their 
honor and reputation. Some of them buy and 
sell under assumed names ; but in general their 
business is anonymously conducted. Bidding 


adieu to the cosmopolitan issue of Abraham, 
Isaac and Jacob, and leaving them in the peace- 
able possession and enjoyment of their ^Hoo or 
tree towsand monnies/' we will take a glance at 
matters of more importance. 

Higher up the street we come to a better class 
of buildings than the miserable little shops we 
have just left, and we get a fair view of the per- 
manent and attractive architecture of San Fran- 
cisco — the brick and stone structures. Many of 
these buildings are beautifully designed and 
symmetrically proportioned, and have fire-proof 
walls varying from sixteen to twenty-four inches 
in thickness. They are usuall}^ from two to four 
stories in height. One hotel is five stories high, 
being the tallest house in the State. 

Probably no city in this country can boast of 
buildings so substantial and thoroughly fire- 
proof as those of San Francisco. Besides making 
the walls very thick, every care is taken to have 
the doors, window-shutters and roofs equally 
stout and incombustible ; nor is this precaution 
at all surprising, when it is remembered that 
this city alone has lost more than twenty-five 
millions of dollars by fire. 

Owing to the unusual dryness of the weather, 
the prevalence of winds in summer, and the in- 
adequate supply of water possessed by the city, 
all combustible matter is rendered so inflamma- 
ble that it is quite impossible to keep it from 


burning after fire is once communicated ; hence 
the necessity of using brick and stone instead of 
wood. The amount of money invested in this 
durable kind of improvement, as will be seen by 
reference to the following statistics which I bor- 
row from the Herald, is something over thirteen 
and a half millions of dollars — the number of 
buildings being six hundred and thirty-eight : 

No. of buildings. V^alue. 

Mason street 4 $ 35,000 

Powell street 13 156,500 

Stockton street 35 423, 500 

Dupont street 37 450, 000 

Kearny street. 23 535,000 

Montgomery street 55 3,500,000 

Sansome street 46 1, 036, 000 

Battery street 63. . . . 1,106,000 

Front street 39 612,000 

Davis street 3 85,000 

Gearystreet 2 16,000 

Sutter street 3 30,000 

Bush street 5 144,000 

Pine street 9 144,500 

California street 47 1, 230, 750 

Sacramento street 52.... 778,000 

Commercial street 21 462,000 

Clay street 28 593,000 

Merchant street 15.... 348,500 

Washington street 37 608, 500 

Jackson street 19 308,000 

Pacific street 7 107,000 

Broadway 10 145,000 

Vallejo street 3 36,000 

Green street 2.... 16,000 

Union street 6 92,000 

Greenwich street 3 35,000 


Lombard street 2.... 12,000 

Chestnut street. 2 20,000 

Francisco street 1 . . . . 36, 000 

Market street 2 40,000 

First street 5 76,000 

Brannan street 10 50, 000 

Third street 4.... 44,500 

Miscellaneous 55 30Y,000 

Total 638 $13,618, *750 

It is a remarkable fact, however, that less than 
half of these improvements have been made with 
California gold. Ask the proprietors where they 
got the money which they have expended in the 
erection of these buildings, and they will tell 
you it came from the Atlantic States and from 
Europe. Those who occupy them, the merchants 
and business men from New York, London, Paris, 
Hamburg, Bremen, and other places, will testify 
to this fact. California gold is to the world much 
what Southern cotton is to the North ; it is not 
retained at home to supply the wants of the peo- 
ple, to afford them employment, to eurich or em- 
bellish the country, but is passed into distant 
hands, and afterwards brought back at a pre- 
mium. Thus the producers are continually 
drained, and the commonwealth necessarily im- 
poverished by this unthrifty management. 

These buildings are erected upon the most eli- 
gible and convenient sites, and form what is- 
properly termed the business portion of the city 
— covering, probably, about one-sixth of its su- 


perficies. Almost all of the residences or private 
dwellings are built of wood, and are very frail 
and inelegant. It is the intention, however, of 
a large number of the citizens to take down the 
wood and substitute brick or stone, as soon as 
they get able, if that is ever to be the case. 

To acquaint ourselves with the character of the 
speculators and business men in San Francisco 
would be a curious and interesting task. They are 
certainly the shrewdest rascals in the world, and 
a straight-forward, honest man, who acts upon 
principle and adheres to a legitimate system of 
dealing, can no more cope with them than he can 
fly. But notwithstanding their shrewdness, and 
I might say, in some instances, their excellent 
business qualifications, they exhibit less method 
and system in their transactions than any class 
of traders I ever saw. Whatever they do is done 
in a helter-skelter, topsy-turvy sort of way, as 
if they had just fallen out of their element, and 
were scrambling to get back again. They never 
take time to do a thing well, but are always going 
and coming, or bustling about in such a manner, 
that one would suppose they were making pre- 
parations for some calamitous emergency, rather 
than attending to the every day routine of an 
established occupation. 

This restless disposition is characteristic of the 
inhabitants of every part of the State ; the mind 
seems all the time to be intently engaged upon 


something in another place, and the body is 
always pushing forward to overtake it. 

Pursuing this digression a little further, it 
may be remarked of San Francisco that, al- 
though she is indebted to California for her ex- 
istence, she is no longer dependent upon the State 
for her support. San Francisco can now claim 
to be as much the city of the Pacific, or of the 
world, as of California. The commercial advan- 
tages she enjoys, her inviting harbor and central 
position, are far superior in importance to any 
benefit she is likely to receive from the interior. 
The profits she will gain from the whale-fishing 
fleet of the North Pacific, and from her trade 
with the islands of the South Pacific, with China, 
Oregon and Russian America, will place her in 
a more prominent and enviable position than it 
is possible for the State ever to attain. 

Returning to our subject, we find ourselves as 
far advanced on our way as Montgomery street. 
The course of this street lies north and south 
through the middle of the most beautiful and 
wealthy part of the city ; it is, therefore, both the 
Broadway and the Wall street of San Francisco. 
Every phase and trait of life and character is 
cognizable here. The dramatist who would study 
human nature here, would have an opportunity 
of striking out something new, instead of re- 
peating the old creations of his predecessors, for 
surely never was there so varied a page spread 
out before the eyes of man. 


While in this vicinity, we may observe men, 
Avho in the Atlantic States bore unblemished rep- 
utations for probity and honor, sinking into the 
lowest depths of shame and degradation. Others, 
whose moral characters are unobjectionable, have 
been pecuniarily unfortunate, and are driven to 
the necessity of engaging in the most menial 
and humiliating employments. Among the lat- 
ter class, I might mention lawyers, who, to save 
themselves from the severe pangs of actual want, 
have been compelled to fish around the wharves 
for crabs, and to enlist themselves in the petty 
traffic of shrimps and tomcods. Ministers and 
physicians fare no better. In a certain hotel in 
this city, not long since, a lawyer was employed 
as a regular runner ; in another, adjacent to it, 
a physician was engaged to pare potatoes and 
wash dishes ; while in a neighboring restaurant, 
a preacher was hired to wait upon the customers 
and clean off the tables. Now, does not every 
reasonable man know that these professional men 
did not voluntarily follow these inferior pursuits? 
It was not a matter of choice with them. They 
could not help themselves ; they were out of mo- 
ney, out of employment, destitute of friends, and 
were compelled to take advantage of the first op- 
portunity that offered of earning their daily bread. 
Half the lowest and most servile situations or 
offices in this and other cities in the State are 
filled, often without any orther remuneration, 


than board and lodging, by these unlucky and 
depressed adventurers. 

New as the country is, the dand}', that exquis- 
ite flower of a fi.nished civilization, is not un- 
known. He may be seen at any time sunning his 
external splendor on the side-walk^ and scorning 
his more useful cotemporaries as loftily as though 
he were promenading Broadway or the Champs 

Together with bankers, stock-jobbers, and 
other moneyed men, we observe that the stu- 
dents or disciples of Blackstone, Coke and Story 
have selected this street for their offices. Con- 
sidering the heterogeneous composition of society 
in this country, the loose and unsystematic trans- 
actions of every-day business, and the unsettled 
state of public affairs, it will be readily perceived 
that there is an incessant clashins; of feeline: and 
interest, and that the result is a great deal of 
strife and litigation. Disputes and difficulties 
relative to real property, and spurious or imagi- 
nary claims, keep the court dockets continually 
crowded ; and the lawyers have rich and abun- 
dant opportunities for the exercise of their foren- 
sic abilities. 

For the first two or three years after the set- 
tlement of California by the Americans, all 
attempts to organize or establish the civil law 
proved fruitless; and during this anarchical pe- 
riod no redress could be had, except by an appeal 


to lyucli-law, in which case death was sure to he 
the fate of the criminah Then the country had 
no practitioners of law, except those whose tal- 
ents ranked far helow mediocrity; hut now the 
San Francisco har can hoast of some of the most 
profound and eminent jurists in the Union. It 
is prohahle that they have heen more fortunate 
in accumulating wealth, than any other class of 
men. Much of their husiness has heen of such 
a nature that they could mould it almost exclu- 
sively to their own interest, provided they felt 
inclined to take such an advantage of their cli- 
ents ; and every body knows it would he a very 
unlawful thing in a lawyer to neglect himself. 
They are the largest owners of real estate in the 
city, and there is no species of property that 
yields so great a profit as this, if properly man- 

Land titles are now as much contested as they 
ever were, there heing in some instances as many 
as half a dozen claimants to a single lot. The 
squatters cause most of these troubles. Gener- 
ally poor, and homeless, they settle upon any 
vacant or unoccupied piece of ground that suits 
them ; and as there is a numerous body linked 
together for mutual support and protection, it is 
an extremely difficult matter for the half-sus- 
tained civil authorities to remove them If the 
law were sufficiently forcible — if there were any 
such thing in California as sovereign law, these 


intruders would be brought to justice, and in- 
stead of the broils and butchery now so common 
all over the country, peace, safety and good order 
would exist. But as it is, no dependence can be 
placed upon the administration of justice ; and 
unless a man takes the law in his own hands, 
and defends his person and property vi et armis, 
he must tamely submit to whatever injury or in- 
dignity is offered him. Sometimes several squat- 
ters settle indiscriminately upon a single claim ; 
and in these cases, feuds, animosities and conten- 
tions are sure to follow; but the difficulties are 
soon arranged by a recourse to weapons, it being 
generally conceded that he is the rightful owner 
or claimant, who happens to possess the largest 
bowie-knife and the truest aim with rifle or re- 

The grog-shops or tippling-houses constitute 
the last but not the least prominent feature of 
Montgomery street that we will notice at the 
present time. The devil has certainly met with 
more than usual success in establishing so many 
of these, his recruiting officers, in this region ; 
for we cannot visit any part of the state or city 
without finding them always at our elbow. San 
Francisco might allot one to every street corner 
in the city, or in other words, four to every in- 
tersection of the streets, and still her number 
would not be exhausted. It is astonishing what 
an amount of time, labor and money is misspent 


in tliis nefarious traffic. Out of the two hundred 
and fifty thousand inhabitants in California, from 
twelve to fifteen thousand are exclusively en- 
gaged in this diabolical, but lucrative business ; 
and, what is worse than all, nearly one-fourth of 
the bars are attended by young females, of the 
most dissolute and abandoned character, who 
use every device to entice and mislead the youth- 
ful and unsuspecting. Women being somewhat 
of a novelty here, their saloons are always 
thronged with customers, many being induced 
to patronize them merely for the sake of looking 
at them. What a base prostitution of their des- 
tiny and mission ! Woman has come here, not 
only to pander to man's vitiated appetites, but 
also to create and foster in him unholier desires, 
and, if possible, to lead him further astray than 
lie would have gone without her. 

Lest we should fall in love with one of these 
sirens, we will not go near them, but will enter 
one of the saloons kept by a biped of our own 
sex. Across the street is a large and fashionable 
one, called the Blue Wing, 

*^ Where politicians most do congregate. 

To let their tongues tang argiinients of State." 

Adding ourselves to the number of its inmates, 
we find the governor of the State seated by 
a table, surrounded by judges of the supreme 
and superior courts, sipping sherry cobblers, 
smoking segars, and reveling in all the delights 


of an anticipated debaucli. Another group of 
less distinction in public affairs, but better known 
to the proprietor because of their more frequent 
and protracted visits, occupy a second table in 
the back part of the room, where they are play- 
ing cards and carousing over a general assort- 
ment of distilled, fermented and malt liquors. 
The proprietor himself is a red-nosed, jolly fel- 
low, of burgomaster proportions, generally in a 
good humor, who treats his victim-patrons with 
the utmost courtesy and politeness. He is every 
man's man, and always has a smile and a smart 
saying prepared for the entertainment of the by- 
standers. His two clerks, for he is unable to 
wait upon all his customers himself, are equally 
urbane in their deportment, and may be found 
at their posts from six o'clock in the morning till 
twelve o'clock at night, ready to flavor and tinc- 
ture mixed drinks, to prepare hot punches, and 
to deal out low anecdote to vulgar idlers. On 
the shelves and counters are dozens of labeled 
decanters and bottles, filled with the choicest 
liquors and artificial beverages that the world 
produces ; other articles of similar use and 
value are also kept for sale, and stored away in 
their appropriate places. As a minute survey of 
the bill of fare may not be uninteresting, I here- 
with present it : — 




Bowie Knives 

and Pistols. 

Scotch Ale, 


English Porter, 

Haut Bers£e_y 

American Brandy, 


Irish Whiskey, 


Holland Gin, 


Jamaica Kum, 


French Claret, 


Spanish Sack, 


German Hockamore, 


Persian Sherbet, 


Portuguese Port, 


Brazilian Arrack, 


Swiss Absynthe, 


East India Acids, 


Spirit Stews and Toddies, 


Lager Beer, 


New Cider, 


Soda Waters, 

Smasher, • 

Mineral Drinks, 


Ginger Pop, 















Hot Grog, 


Mint Juleps, 


Gin Sling, 

Rhenish Wine, 

Brick Tops 


Sherry Cobblers, 


Queen Charlottes, 





Brandy Smashes, 

Whiskey Punch, 

Cherry Bounce,, 



Our Own, 

Eed Light, 




White Lion, 


Peach and Honey, 

Whiskey Skin, 

Old Sea Dog, 

Peg and Whistle, 

Eye Opener, 

Apple Dam, 

Flip Flap, 
One-eyed Joe, 
Tom .and Jerry, 
Moral Suasion, 
Jewett's Fancy, 
Ne Plus Ultra, 
Citronella Jam, 
Silver Spout, 
Ching Ching, 
Stone Wall, 
Booster Tail, 
Vox Populi, 
Tug and Try, 

Segars and Tobacco. 
The annual consumption of beer, wines and 
liquors in this State exceeds five millions of gal- 
lons, a vast deal of which is retailed at extraordi- 
narily remunerative rates. All of the first class 
establishments, I mean those that deal in good 
qualities, charge twenty-five cents for every drink 
or dram they sell ; but an adulterated article, of 
which there is always an abundant supply in 
market, can be procured at about one half that 
price. In some of the most popular and respect- 
able saloons, genuine articles are always kept on 
hand for the benefit and accommodation of those 
who are willing to pay for a delicious (?) draught. 
I may not be a competent judge, but this much 


I will say, that I have seen purer liquors, better 
segars, finer tobacco, truer guns and pistols, 
larger dirks and bowie knives, and prettier 
courtezans here, than in any other place I have 
ever visited ; and it is my unbiased opinion 
that California can and does furnish the best 
bad things that are obtainable in America. 




We will , now look into Clay street, wliicli 
intersects Montgomery, and runs parallel with 
Commercial. Next to Montgomery, this is the 
most fashionahle street in the city ; the large 
establishments where retailers deal in ladies' 
and gentlemen's dress goods being situated upon 
it. The side-walks are narrow, and generally 
crowded to such an excess as to render it really 
difficult and tiresome to travel them. To the 
ladies, shopping on this street is especially an- 
noying and tedious ; for they are designedly 
balked or hindered in their course by a set of 
w^ell-dressed vagabonds, who promenade the 
trestoir from morning to night for the sole pur- 
pose of staring in their faces. 

The following little circumstance, which oc- 
curred here about a year ago, will show that, 
however culpable it may be in those who make 
a regular business of gazing intently in ladies' 
faces, the act is sometimes induced by a natural 
and inoffensive regard for the opposite sex. A 
very clever married lady, whose notions and 
ideas of things were somewhat akin to those of 


the Merry Wives of Windsor, espied a gentle- 
man gazing very earnestly in her lace, when she 
turned to him, notwithstanding they were hoth 
on the street, and asked, " Why do you stare at 
me so hard, sir ? Have I done you any injury ?" 
" Oh ! no, madam," replied he ; " I assure you 
you have not harmed me in the least. But par- 
don me ; I have been in the mines for the last 
two years, and it has been so long since I saw a 
lady, that I must own my admiration of you has 
compelled me to be somewhat rude in my scru- 
tiny of your charms.'* The lady was satisfied 
with the complimentary explanation, and since 
that time has been more resigned to her fate, 
and better contented to endure the steady stare 
of the public. 

The gambling-houses cannot be overlooked in 
a true sketch of life in San Francisco. One of 
the largest and most frequented of these, called 
the Diana, stands a few doors above us. The 
building extends, through the entire block, from 
Clay to Commercial street, and has a front pro- 
portionate to its depth. The doors, which lead 
into it from either street, are kept wide open 
from nine in the morning till twelve at night, 
durino; which time the hall or saloon is gener- 
ally filled to overflowing with lazy men, of lit- 
tle principle, whose chief employment consists 
in devising some sinister plans of procuring a 
livelihood without work. On one side is a bar, 


attended by a lady, assisted by three young white 
men and two negroes. This is largely patronized 
by the occupants of the saloon — one-fifth of them 
drinking because they have been lucky, and the 
other four-fifths drinking because they have been 
unlucky. Around the walls are suspended showy 
paintings and engravings, some of them of the 
size of life, representing nude women in every 
imaginable posture of obscenity and indecency. 

Seated around numerous tables, covered with 
cloth or velvet, and finished expressly for gam- 
bling purposes, are some rare specimens of 
greedy speculators in the folly of their fellow- 
men. The proprietor of the house rents his 
tables to professional gamblers at a stipulated 
sum per month, with the condition that he is to 
receive a certain per centage on the net proceeds 
of their swindling operations. Usually, two 
gamblers form a copartnership, hire one table, 
and station themselves opposite each other, so 
that each can understand every manceuvre and 
secret sign of the other ; and when a good oppor- 
tunity for cheating or defrauding presents itself 
to one of them, the other is always prepared to 
divert the attention of the audience or of the in- 
terested party from his partner's motions. Every 
possible variety of gaming that can be accom- 
plished by cards and dice is practiced here ; and 
every false and dishonest trick is resorted to 
(often with more than anticipated success) to 


fleece ignorant men of tlieir purses. Lying on 
the top of each table is a pile of gold and silver 
coin, denominated the bank, the size and amount 
of which, as a matter of course, depend alto- 
gether upon the wealth of the proprietors. I 
have said ^^the bank" is composed of gold and 
silver coin ; it must be one or other, or both of 
these metals in some shape — whether in dust, 
ingots, bullion, or coin ; for these constitute the 
sole recognized currency of the State, there being 
no paper money or bank-notes in circulation. 

At one of the tables we observe two proprie- 
tors, as before described. One of them is a lank, 
cadaverous fellow, with a repulsive expression of 
low cunning, full of hypocrisy and deceit, taci- 
turn in disposition, unengaging in manners, who 
was formerly a Baptist preacher in Connecticut. 
The other has a vinous, fat, and jolly counte- 
nance, is open-faced, enjoys a joke, is lively, 
laughs at his partner for being so melancholy, 
is affable and courteous to strangers, talks a 
great deal, as might be expected, since, before 
he came to California, he was considered one of 
the most promising young lawyers in Mississippi. 

The proprietors of another table are two old 
gentlemen of " three score years and ten," whose 
white hairs and wrinkled brows would seem to 
belong to a more honorable station in life than 
that assigned them by destiny. A third table is 
used by a couple of Spaniards, whose scowling 


brows and treacherous eyes indicate that they 
are better qualified for the transaction of in- 
famous and atrocious deeds, than for fair dealing 
or magnanimous behaviour. A Jew and Jewess 
have command of the fourth table ; the fifth is 
under the direction and management of a French 
gentleman and lady ; a young American girl and 
her paramour have charge of the sixth ; while 
the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and so on, are 
presided over by sundry sorts of wicked spirits, 
unworthy of being named. Octogenarians, youth- 
ful and middle-aged men, married and unmarried 
women, boys and girls, white and black, brown 
and copper-colored, the quarrelsome and the 
peaceable, all associate together ; and, at times, 
as might be expected, fight, maim, and kill each 
other with the same indifference with which 
people generally pursue their daily occupations. 

I neglected to mention before, that, in some 
conspicuous point of the principal houses of this 
character, there is generally erected a stage or 
platform, upon which a company of musicians 
perform at intervals of a quarter of an hour. 
This they are employed to do for the purpose of 
enticing unsuspecting strangers and passers-by. 

Like those engaged in the liquor traffic, these 
gamblers are a public nuisance, a burden upon 
society. They do no sort of profitable manual or 
mental labor ; yet the community grants them a 
license to abuse the public, and to debase them- 


selves. Their occupation being a discreditable 
and dishonorable one, it robs them of that degree 
of happiness and respectability which naturally 
belongs to every industrious and upright man. 
Like a deadly contagion, they blast and destroy 
all with whom they come in contact. 

Thousands of these swindlers live by their ex- 
pertness in gambling and tricks of legerdemain. 
Dissipated, reckless, and restless, they rove from 
place to place, rarely acquiring decent habits or 
becoming permanent citizens. They are, never- 
theless, great lovers and admirers of women ; 
and most of them make it a special branch of 
their business to cultivate a due share of female 
acquaintance. But we will now bid adieu to the 
blacklegs, and return again to the street, merely 
stopping a minute or two, as we pass out, to 
listen to the enchanting strains of " Katy Dar- 
ling,'' or '' Lilly Dale," played by the brass band 
in attendance. 

What is here called the plaza, or park, which 
occupies one square between Washington, Clay, 
Kearney and Brenham streets, now lies before 
us ; but as it is nothing more nor less than a 
cow-pen, inclosed with unplaned plank, we will 
say but little about it. In the middle is planted 
a tall liberty-poll, near which is erected a rude 
rostrum for lynch-lawyers and noisy politicians. 
If there is a tree, or a bush, or a shrub, or a sprig 
of grass, or any thing else in or about it that is 


green, or that bears the slightest similitude to 
vegetation, nobody has ever yet seen it ; and, as 
a pleasure-ground, it is used only by the four- 
footed denizens of the city. On the east side of 
this delectable public square is the California 
Exchange, before the steps of which are stationed 
from fifteen to twenty French peasants, who pur- 
sue no business save that of blacking boots. 
Most of them have acquired or adopted this or- 
namental occupation since they left La Belle 

A few doors above the Exchange stands the 
City Hall, which was formerly the Jenny Lind 
Theatre — a very neat stone structure, but wholly 
unsuited for the purpose to which it is now ap- 
plied. The parties who built it for a theatre 
soon ascertained that it was a bad speculation, 
and became considerably involved in debt ; and, 
to save themselves, and make the best of a bad 
bargain, they bribed a majority of the aldermen 
to purchase it for a City Hall, at several thou- 
sand dollars above the original cost. 

In this way a monstrous swindle was perpe- 
trated upon the community, by fraudulently ap- 
propriating the public money to the use and 
benefit of private individuals. But the fraud 
could not be remedied ; the city officers had been 
elected as the representatives of the citizens, 
whose rights and powers had been vested in 
them, and if they were so base as to prove recre- 


ant to their trust, the penalty had to be paid by 
their constituents. They consummated their cor- 
rupt bargain for the theatre, the properties were 
removed, and, after the expenditure of much 
time, labor, and money, in making alterations 
and additions, the building was converted into 
what now stands before us — the City Hall of 
San Francisco. The j)rincipals in this iniquitous 
transaction enriched themselves and their accom- 
plices at the expense of the city treasury, suffer- 
ing nothing except the denunciations and execra- 
tions of an abused and outraged public. This is 
a fair sample of the disposition that is made of 
the public funds throughout the State. Sheriffs, 
treasurers, and tax-collectors, in the majority of 
cases, are expected to decamp with all the money 
in their hands, or to embezzle a part of it ; and 
it has passed into a proverb, that no honest man 
can be elected to a city, county, or state office in 

Were we to remain an hour or two in this 
vicinity, we should probably see a police officer 
rolling " a perpetual hymn to the Deity" on a 
wheelbarrow — for that, we believe, is Foe's eu- 
phemism for a woman. Intoxication is quite 
common among the ladies of this particular sec- 
tion of San Francisco, and the wheelbarrow, or 
some other vehicle, must be employed to convey 
them to the station-house, on account of the total 
failure of their natural organs of locomotion. 

On the north side of the Plaza are some of the 


best French eating-houses in the State. One of 
them, the Cafe du Commerce^ which, translated 
into English, means Commercial Coffee-house, is 
quite famous for its choice gastronomy. A better 
dinner can be procured here than in an American 
house, because the French are better cooks, 
cleaner in their culinary arrangements and pre- 
parations, more polite and attentive to their 
guests, and less accustomed to adulterating their 
provisions. Dinner, without wine, costs two 
dollars for each person ; but with it, from three 
to five dollars, according to quality and quantity 
consumed. The stranger cannot promise himself 
any thing very sumptuous or delicious in the 
way of eatables, even in the first-class hotels. 
He can get good wines and liquors, prime cigars 
and tobacco, and other accessory articles of su- 
perior quality ; but the fare at best is very in- 

All the more substantial articles of food, such 
as flour, meal, beef, pork, and butter, are im- 
ported from Europe or brought from the Atlantic 
States. As these provisions are sent around by 
Cape Horn, they must pass twice through the 
tropics before they arrive in San Francisco ; con- 
sequently, most of them become more or less sour, 
musty, or rancid, which, as we all know, renders 
them not only repugnant to the palate, but also 
injurious to health. But, notwithstanding their 
transportation of from seventeen to twenty thou- 


sand miles upon the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, 
old or fresh, sound or unsound, they must be 
sold, served up, cooked, eaten. They cannot he 
wasted or thrown away, for that would he a 
losing business, and people did not come to Cali- 
fornia to lose money, but to make it ; nor does 
it matter to them whether they make it by the 
sale of sweet flour or by the vending of putrid 

Sour flour is sold at reduced prices to the 
bakers, who mix it with a larger quantity — say 
twice as much — of that which is sweet ; then it 
is manufactured into bread, delivered to the res- 
taurants, and devoured by the populace. The 
flour put up by the Gallego and Haxall mills, of 
Eichmond, Virginia, receives less damage in its 
transit through the torrid zone than any other — 
at least, this is the reputation it enjoys in Cali- 
fornia, those brands being more highly prized 
and more eagerly sought after by bakers and 
consumers. Next to the Eichmond, the Freder- 
icksburg and Georgetown flour is most in de- 
mand. How it is that the flour manufactured in 
the localities just named, or in the vicinity of 
those localities, retains its pure and primitive 
qualities better and longer than that produced 
at the North, which, with few exceptions, spoils 
on the way, I am unable to say — unless, perhaps, 
the latitude or climate imparts to it a healthier 
condition or a preservative principle. 


Within the last one or two years, considerable 
quantities of the cerealia have been cultivated 
in the low lands and valleys of this State, and a 
few flouring mills have been erected, which are 
now in operation ; but the proprietors mix their 
grists so much with rye and barley, that the flour 
is less marketable than it would be if it was 
ground out of genuine wheat. To give character 
to their spurious compound, they practice a 
double imposition, by packing it in empty Gal- 
lego and Haxall barrels, which are clandestinely 
purchased and kept in readiness for the purpose. 
Thus they steal the reputation of the Virginia 
brands; and, by placing their falsely-labeled, 
inferior flour in the hands of their rascally 
agents, they succeed in efl'ecting large sales of it 
to those who are not particular in their exam- 
inations. Though the fraud is easily detected 
when the barrels are opened, there is no chance 
of obtaining redress ; for, in most cases, these 
deceptions are carried out in such an indirect or 
complicated way, through factors and agents, 
that it is too difficult a matter to trace them to 
their source. If, however, the guilty parties are 
discovered, it amounts to nothing ; because here, 
where the laws are so loosely and imperfectlj'' 
administered, where all strong persons do as they 
please, and weak ones must do as they can, it 
costs more to adjust a wrong than it does to 
endure it. 


This system of cheating and adulteration is 
carried out in all ramifications of business ; and 
if a man is not continually upon the alert, he is 
sure to suffer the penalty of his negligence, by 
having a worse thing than he bargained for 
thrust upon him, and that, too, without redress. 

To return from our digression : although the 
French are somewhat more philosophic and sci- 
entific in their preparation of viands, we perceive 
no material difference between their mode of liv- 
ing and our own. They eat more slowly, are 
more graceful in their deportment at table, and 
seem to enjoy their meals as a feast, rather than 
to devour them as a necessary repast. Wine is 
their principal drink, morning, noon and night ; 
and dinner to them, without it, would be as in- 
sipid and unpalatable as breakfast to our Amer- 
ican grand-mothers without coffee. After the 
main part of the meal is finished, it is customary 
with them to sip a small cup of strong coffee, as 
a sort of accompaniment to their dessert. This, 
however, they do not flavor with cream, as we 
do, but use Cognac, burnt with sugar, instead. 
It is an unusual thing for them to drink water 
at any time, except when mixed with wine. I 
have the pleasure of the acquaintance of a very 
worthy and estimable French gentleman, who 
assured me that he had taken but one drink of 
crude water in four years, *' and then," he added, 
^' it make me sick." 




After a night's lodging in one of the human- 
stables of San Francisco, called here, for polite- 
ness' sake, hotels, we feel sufficiently refreshed 
to continue our reconnoissance of the city. It 
will probably be as well for us to retrace our 
steps to the south side of the Plaza, where we 
re-enter Clay street, and ascend the long, high 
hill that forms the western boundary of the city. 
Before proceeding far, we come to a pistol gal- 
lery, on the left, owned and conducted by one 
Dr. Natchez, a short, thick-set " son of thunder,'* 
who keeps on hand the best assortment of duel- 
ing apparatus that the world affords. The pro- 
prietor's real cognomen is, I think. Brown, Smith 
or Jones ; but every body calls him Natchez, be- 
cause he came from the town of that name in 
Mississippi. He knows all about guns, pistols, 
and ammunition ; is an excellent shot — can hit 
a bull's eye or a man's eye every time he pulls a 
trigger ; and never fails to vindicate his honor 
when it is assailed. In the opinion of the duel- 
ist, he is emphatically an honor-saving man ; 
and in matters of personal difficulty and dis- 


pute, there is no one so capable of giving suit- 
able advice, or so well prepared to supply the 
necessary instruments of polite slaughter, as Dr. 

Among the fiery spirits of this Western Me- 
tropolis, the slightest affront, even though it 
may be purely accidental, is considered a wound 
to dignity curable only by an application of 
Colt's revolver to the breast of the transgressor ; 
and as Dr. Natchez enjoys the reputation of pre- 
paring the best remedies for wounded honor, all 
those afflicted with the disorder apply to him for 
relief. Laying before him their ailments and 
grievances, he will at once say the cause must he 
removed; the offending party is waited upon 
with a challenge, which is accepted ; and the 
Doctor, w^ith commendable impartiality, super- 
intends the preparation of the weapons for both 

Passing on towards the summit of the hill 
before us, we soon arrive at an elevation from 
which we have a clear and uninterrupted view 
of the whole city, which contains, it is supposed, 
from forty-five to fifty thousand inhabitants — 
about one-fifth of the entire population of the 
State. The original water-boundary of the city, 
on the east, was in the form of a crescent ; but, 
the bay being shallow in this particular part, its 
shape has been changed, by filling it in with 
sand from the adjacent hills. Owing to the 


Bteep declivities of the original site of the city, 
this encroachment was demanded and effected 
by those engaged in commercial pursuits, wlio 
wanted level ground. The land thus made, 
being the most eligibly situated and convenient 
to the wharves, is far more valuable than that 
of natural formation. At first, however, heavy 
losses were sustained, in consequence of the in- 
secure foundations of most of the buildings, some 
of which gave way entirely, and had to be re- 
constructed. Now, however, they understand it 
better, and take special care to pile and plank 
the foundation thoroughly before the superstruc- 
ture is erected. 

Tlie process of filling up these water-lots was 
very irregular ; and, as the work advanced, 
several ponds of water, which afterwards became 
stagnant, were cut off by these means from the 
ocean. In other places, the tide receded from 
the shallow parts of the bay, and from the sur- 
face thus left bare, as well as from the ponds last 
mentioned, there arose large quantities of highly 
offensive and almost suffocating gas, which ob- 
literated all the painted signs in the immediate 
vicinity. Strange to say, the effluvium exhaled 
from these foul ponds and marshy places did not 
produce disease. The wind blew it off or coun- 
teracted its insalubrious effects. 

Viewing the city from our present elevated 
position, we look in vain for any verdure. In- 


deed, there is not a shade-tree in San Francisco. 
Nor, if we search the outskirts of the city, can 
we find either trees, coppice, vegetation, or any 
green thing whereon to feast the eyes. The 
earth all around us is as sterile and unproduc- 
tive as a public highway. We feel a void, as 
though a friend were absent. Nature wears a 
repulsive and haggard expression. Oh ! how 
few there are amongst us who duly appreciate 
trees, those noble earth-fingers that point to 
heaven and uplift the mind to God I According 
to my judgment, there is a greater combination 
of the beautiful and the useful in a forest oak or 
hickory, than in all the gay exotics which are so 
carefully reared by the florist. I entertain no 
doubt that a large, luxuriant elm would attract 
more attention in San Francisco than a men- 
agerie or circus ; and it is a wonder that some 
ingenious and speculative Yankee has not, ere 
this, manufactured one out of soft pine and dyed 
muslin for public exhibition. As an instance of 
the feeling that exists here on account of the lack 
of trees, I may cite the exclamation of a distin- 
guished gentleman with whom I once had the 
honor to dine. Said he, (his wife at the time 
being in North Carolina,) " I long for the society 
of trees almost as much as I do for that of my 
wife ; and if she and a big oak could now be 
placed side by side within my reach, I scarcely 
know which of the two I should embrace first!'' 


Many other natural and artificial deficiencies 
and peculiarities, for which San Francisco is 
famous, might, with propriety, he considered 
before we quit our high retreat ; hut we will 
now conclude our panoramic sketch, and de- 
scend into the more densely settled part of the 




The national habits and traits of Chinese char- 
acter, to which they cling with uncompromising 
tenacity in this country, are strikingly anoma- 
lous and distinct from those of all other nations. 
There is a marked identity about their features, 
person, manners and costume, so unmistakable 
that it betrays their nationality in a moment. So 
stereotyped are even the features and form of 
this singular people, that we cannot fail in their 
identity in the rudest cut that pretends to repre- 
sent them. Particular fashions and modes of 
dress give them no concern whatever. One com- 
mon rule seems to guide them in all their per- 
sonal decorations. All their garments look as if 
they were made after the same pattern, out of 
the same material, and from the same piece of 
cloth. In short, the similarity in their garb, 
features, physical proportions and deportment 
is so great that one Chinaman looks almost ex- 
actly like another, but very unlike anybody else. 

Let us now place ourselves in front of one of 
these xanthous children of the flowery land, and 
survey him somewhat minutely. Every one is 


acquainted with his method of dressing his head, 
which is closely shaven, except a small spot on 
the crown, about the size of the palm of the 
hand. Into this slender lock of hair thus per- 
mitted to grow upon the apex of his cranium, 
he interweaves long strands of sable silk, which 
form a cue that nearly reaches the ground. His 
hat^ which possesses a brim of enormous width, 
is manufactured out of ratan or bamboo splints, 
and has an indentation made in the top expressly 
for the accommodation of his cue. He very sel- 
dom, however, wears this appendage tucked up 
in his hat, but generally allows it to trail about 
his back and legs, as young girls sometimes do 
ribbons. This pig-tail he loves as he does his 
life ; and he would as willingly have his right 
arm amputated as part with it. Notwithstanding 
he carries it behind him, it is his character — the 
badge of his respectability ; and Boodh or Josh 
alone could prevail upon him to cut it off. His 
coat, which is fashioned very much like a pea- 
jacket, is made of crow-colored cotton cloth, of 
flimsy texture, and buttons loosely around him 
as low down as convenience will permit. His 
pantaloons, the legs of which are a trifle smaller 
than a medium-sized meal-bag, are composed of 
the same stuff as his coat, and terminate at about 
the middle of his sbins. His shoes or sandals — 
minus socks, for he never wears any — are hewn 
out of solid wood, and taper towards the toe 


nearly to a sharp point. As he moves along he- 
fore us in these uncouth hahiliments — his feet 
inclosed in rude wooden shoes^ his legs hare, his 
hreeches loosely flapping against his knees, his 
skirtless, long-sleeved, hig-hodied pea-jacket, 
hanging in large folds around his waist, his 
hroad-hrimmed chai3eau rocking carelessly on 
his head, and his cue suspended and gently 
sweeping ahout his hack — I can compare him to 
nothing so appropriately as to a tadpole walking 
upon stilts 1 Ludicrous and ahsurd as this com- 
parison may appear to some, no one who has 
seen him will say that it is incorrectly applied. 
Such, then, is something of the outline of the 
Chinaman ; and, with hut few exceptions, may 
he considered as illustrative of the entire race as 
seen in California. The few exceptions are the 
mandarins, who rohe themselves in long figured 
gowns, and some of the wealthier classes, who 
wear silk and satin goods, instead of cotton 
fahrics. But the description given ahove w^ili 
suit at least nine out of every ten. 

According to the most reliahle estimates^ there 
are at the present time ahout forty thousand 
Chinese in California ; and every vessel that 
arrives from the Celestial Empire hrings addi- 
tional immigrants. From a fourth to a fifth of 
these reside in San Francisco ; the halance are 
scattered ahout over various parts of the State — 
mostly in the mines. A few females — say one to 


every twelve or fifteen males — are among the 
number ; among these good morals are unknown, 
they have no regard whatever for chastity or 
virtue. Yon would be puzzled to distinguish 
the women from the men, so inconsiderable are 
the differences in dress and figure. The only 
apparent difference is, that they are of smaller 
stature and have smoother features. They are 
not generally neat in their outward habit ; but 
on certain occasions; particularly on holidays, 
the elite doff their every-day costume, equip 
themselves in clean attire, and braid their hair 
into a kind of crest, which, as it is worn upon 
the head, bears a strong resemblance to the tuft 
of feathers upon the noddle of a peacock. Those 
who are from the extreme northern parts of the 
Chinese empire, are the ugliest and most rugged 
featured human beings I ever saw. * 

What the majority of them do for a liveli- 
hood is more than I can tell, as they have but 
few visible occupations. The laundry business 
affords those who live in San Francisco, and 
other cities, the most steady and lucrative em- 
ployment; and in passing their premises, the 
eye is often attracted to such " Celestial'' signs 
as the following : " Kum Kee. Washer." " Ahi 
Fe. Launder." '^ Wong Cho. Washing and 
Ironing — 13 per Doz." Catching and drying 
fish is another business in which they engage, 
but do not carry it on extensively ; others are 


engaged in mercantile pursuits ; and here and 
there you will find one in a puhlic house, filling 
the place of a cook or a waiter. But, though 
most of them are held as mere slaves hy their 
wealtliier countrymen, it goes desperately against 
the grain with them to take the situation of ser- 
vants among white people, as they are consti- 
tutionally haughty and conceited, and helieve 
themselves to be superior to us in all respects. 
So exalted an opinion have they of themselves 
that they think they are the most central, civil- 
ized and enlightened people on earth, and that 
they are the especial favorites of heaven — hence 
they are sometimes called " Celestials.'*' They 
look upon us and all other white-skinned nations 
as '^ outside barbarians," and think we are un- 
duly presumptuous if we do not pay them hom- 
age ! Out of tlie cities, more of them are engaged 
in mining than in any otlier occupation ; but, as 
I intimated before, the majority of them lead a 
very inactive and unproductive life. Much phys- 
ical exertion, however, is not required to secure 
them a maintenance; for their aliment, if pos- 
sible, costs them less than their dress, which is 
by no means expensive. Indeed, so sparing are 
they in their meals, that it is seldom they eat 
any thing but boiled rice ; and even this, which 
they bring with them from China, is very infe- 
rior to that raised in the Carol inas. It is an 
amusing spectacle to sec one of them feeding on 


tills grain. Holding a bowl of the rice in such 
a manner that the nearer edge of it almost 
touches his chin, and grasping two chopsticks^ 
about the shape and size of penholders, between 
his fingers and thumb, he feeds himself with a 
lively and dexterous motion of the hand, not very 
unlike a musician playing upon a jewsharp, and 
continues the feat without intermission until he 
has finished. He seems to cram the food dowm 
his throat with these chopsticks, rather than let 
it undergo the usual process of mastication. The 
ardor and haste with which he executes the per- 
formance, remind one of a provident farmer 
when he pitches new-made sheaves of provender 
into ^ hay-mow, just previous to a thunder-storm. 
The Americans salute them all indiscrimi- 
nately by the easy and euphonious appellation 
of ^' John,'*' to which they reply as readily as if 
they were addressed by their true names ; and 
they return the compliment by applying the 
same term to us, er^ually indiscriminately. A 
great number of them think '^ John'' is the only 
name white people have ; and if they have occa- 
sion to speak to an American or European wo- 
man, they call her '' John," too I But their own 
vernacular cognomens, like their language and 
habits, sound certainly very odd to occidental 
ears. The following may be taken as fair speci- 
mens : Kak Chow, Chum Fi, Yah TVah, Si Ta, 
Hom Tong, Dack Mung. Gee Foo. They are de- 


plorably addicted to wasting time in games of 
chance ; and tliere are a dozen and a half gam- 
bling houses in San Francisco under their especial 
control and direction. But neither Americans 
nor Europeans participate in the sports or for- 
tunes of their tables ; they themselves are .the 
exclusive gamblers in these eighteen dens of ras- 
cality. Their money is chiefly composed of brass 
and copper coins, stamped with the characters 
of their alphabet. Hardened rice and stamped 
slices of pasteboard are also current among them 
as mediums of exchange. 

Is this Chinese immigration desirable ? I 
think not ; and, contrarj^ to the expressed opin- 
ions of many of the public prints throughout 
the country, contend that it ought not to be en- 
couraged. It is not desirable, because it is not 
useful ; or, if useful at all, it is so only to them- 
selves — not to us. No reciprocal or mutual bene- 
fits are conferred. In what capacity do they con- 
tribute to the advancement of American interests? 
Are they engaged in any thing that adds to the 
general wealth and importance of the country? 
Will they discard their clannish prejiossessions, 
assimilate with us, buy of us, and respect us? 
Are they not so full of duplicity, prevarica- 
tion and pagan prejudices, and so enervated 
and lazy, that it is impossible for them to make 
true or estimable citizens ? I wish their advo- 
cates would answer me these questions ; if they 


will do it satisfactorily, I will interrogate them 
no further. Under the existing laws of our gov- 
ernment, they, as well as all other foreigners, 
are permitted to work the mines in California as 
long as they please, and as much as they please, 
without paying any thing for the privilege, ex- 
cept a small tax to the 8tate. Even this has hut 
recently been imposed, and half the time is either 
evaded or neglected. The general government, 
though it has sacrificed so much hlood and trea- 
sure in acquiring California, is now so liberal 
that it refuses to enact a law imposing a tax 
upon foreign miners"; and, as a matter of course, 
it receives no revenue whatever from this source. 
But the Chinese are more objectionable than 
other foreigners, because they refuse to have 
dealing or intercourse with us ; consequently, 
there is no chance of making any thing of them, 
either in the way of trade or labor. They are 
ready to take all they can get from us, but are 
not willing to give any thing in return. They 
did not aid in the acquisition or settlement of 
California, and they do not intend to make it 
their future home. They will not become per- 
manent citizens, nor identify their lives and in- 
terests with the country. They neither build 
nor buy, nor invest capital in any way that con- 
duces to the advantage of any one but them- 
selves. They have thousands of good-for-nothing 
gewgaws and worthless articles of virtu for sale, 


and our people are foolish enough to buy them ; 
but their knowledge of the laws of reciprocity is 
so limited, that they never feel in any need of 
American commodities. 

Though they hold themselves aloof from us, 
contemn and disdain us, they have guaranteed 
to them the same privileges that we enjoy ; and 
are allowed to exhaust the mines that should be 
reserved for us and our posterity — that is, if 
they are worth reserving at all. Their places 
could and should be filled with worthier immi- 
grants — Europeans, who would take the oath of 
allegiance to the country, work both for them- 
selves and for the commonwealth, fraternize with 
us, and, finally^ become a part of us. All things 
considered, I cannot perceive what more right or 
business these semi-barbarians have in Califor- 
nia than flocks of blackbirds have in a wheat- 
field ; for, as the birds carry off the wheat with- 
out leaving any thing of value behind, so do the 
Confucians gather the gold, and take it away 
with them to China, without compensation to 
us wdio opened the w^ay to it. 

Still they are received with a flattering wel- 
come. They are taken by the hand with an ob- 
sequious grasp, as if their favor was earnestly 
desired ; and the impression is at once made 
upon their minds, that not only their own pre- 
sence, but also that of as many more of their 
kindred as can be persuaded to come, is coveted 


by us. Their mining implements and boots (the 
only articles of merchandise they purchase from 
us) are sold to them at even less rates than to 
our own countrymen^, more from curiosity than 
from any other cause. For some unaccountable 
reason, they are treated with a degree of defer- 
ence and civility which is really surprising. To 
humor their arrogance and presumption, I have 
frequently seen Americans, in crowded places, 
relinquish the side-walk to them, and betake 
themselves to the middle of a rough and muddy 
street. Moreover, they are petted as if they were 
really what they preposterously fancy themselves 
— the most elevated and exalted of the human 

But I am inclined to look upon them as an in- 
auspicious element of society — a seed of political 
dissensions. They have neither the strength of 
body nor the power of mind to cope with us in 
the common affairs of life ; and as it seems to be 
a universal law that the stronger shall rule the 
weaker, it will be required of them, ere long, to 
do one of two things, namely — either to succumb, 
to serve us, or to quit the country. Which will 
they do ? Our people will not always treat them 
with undue complaisance. Their real merits and 
demerits will be developed, and such stations 
as their natural endowments qualify them to 
fill will be assigned them. They must work for 
themselves, or we will make them work for us. 


No inferior race of men can exist in these United 
States without becoming subordinate to the will 
of the Anglo-Americans, or foregoing many of 
the necessaries and comforts of life. They must 
either be our equals or our dependents. It is so 
with the negroes in the South ; it is so with the 
Irish in the North ; it was so with the Indians 
in New England ; and it will be so with the 
Chinese in California. The Indians, it is true, 
would not submit to be enslaved ; but they had 
to suffer exile, hunger and death as a conse- 
quence of their intractability. Certain it is, that 
the greater the diversity of colors and qualities 
of men, the greater will be the strife and con- 
flict of feeling. One party will gain the as- 
cendency, and dominate over the other. Our 
population was already too heterogeneous be- 
fore the Chinese came ; but now another ad- 
ventitious ingredient has been added ; and I 
should not wonder at all, if the copper of the 
Pacific yet becomes as great a subject of dis- 
cord and dissension as the ebony of the Atlantic. 
However, the discussion and consideration of 
these matters more properly devolve upon our 
public functionaries, who, I presume, if loyal to 
their constituents and their country, will not 
lightly regard them. 




California has features as distinct and pecu- 
liar as the Alps or the Andes. It cannot be mis- 
taken for any other country ; it is like no other 
region on the face of the earth. Being new, and 
in some respects untried, the most various con- 
jectures, and the most opposite opinions have 
been expressed as to its future fortunes and ulti- 
mate destiny. A few who have been successful 
in their schemes and undertakings, and whose 
interests and existence are now blended with it, 
flatter themselves that it is destined to become a 
great and flourishing state ; while, on the other 
hand, the great majority, who have been disap- 
pointed in all their expectations, and thwarted 
in every attempt, pronounce it an unmitigated 
cheat, and curse it bitterly as the cause of their 
ruin. My own opinions are, I imagine, by this 
time pretty well understood. I speak of the 
country as I have seen it, not as a mere passing 
traveler, but as an attentive observer. I emi- 
grated to it as much in search of adventure as of 
profit ; and, during the three years of my resi- 
dence within its borders, have had ample oppor- 


tunities to explore and scrutinize it as I desired. 
I am fully satisfied with my information upon 
this subject. I have seen all of it that is worth 
seeing, and a great deal besides. I crave no 
further knowledge of it than I now possess. 

While there is any unoccupied land between 
the British boundaries of Maine and the Mexi- 
can limits of Texas, between the Florida Keefs 
and the Falls of St. Anthony, I would not advise 
any person to emigrate to California for the i:)ur- 
pose of bettering his worldly condition. I have, 
indeed, no personal knowledge of the other divis- 
ions of land west of the Kocky Mountains ; yet 
an acquaintance with gentlemen of character and 
veracity w^ho have visited those sections, justifies 
the opinion that none of them abound in those 
elements of exuberant and permanent greatness 
so characteristic of the States east of the Kio 
Grande and the Mississippi. Oregon and Wash- 
ington territories, Utah and New Mexico are tol- 
erable countries, and, in some respects, supe- 
rior to California ; but owing to the general in- 
feriority of their natural advantages, the}^ can 
never become as powerful or important States 
as Louisiana or New York, Georgia or Illinois. 
The Pacific side of the continent is, as a general 
thing, far inferior to the Atlantic slope. 

In my judgment, the present condition and 
future prospects of California, so far from offer- 
ing inducements for additional immigration; ac- 


tually portend mucli poverty and suffering. The 
very fact that thousands of men, some of whom 
have been in the country from three to four 
yearSj are working for nothing hut their hoard, 
is of itself justifiable ground for this apprehen- 
sion. More than a dozen stout, sober, able-bodied 
men, who asked nothing in compensation for 
their services but food, have applied to me for 
employment in a single day. I have elsewhere 
remarked that many of the most menial and 
humiliating situations about hotels, stores and 
private residences are filled by these ill-fated 
men, who, if they had the means, would be glad 
to shake off the dust of California from their feet, 
and return to the homes of their youth, where 
peace, plenty and happiness are attainable by 
all. Misery and despair go to bed with them at 
night, rise with them in the morning and accom- 
pany them throughout the da^ ; they have been 
grossly deceived ; " hope told them a flattering 
tale,'' and broke her lying promise; their hearts 
are sick with unrelenting and consuming sor- 
rows. Strangers among strangers, they have no 
friend to soothe or assist them in the hour of 
misfortune; if they hunger, they must fast; if 
sickness overtake them, death is their remedy. 
Depressed in spirits, and driven to desperation 
by bitter and repeated calamities, they betake 
themselves to the bottle for solace, become insane 
from extreme anxiety or over-activity of the 


mind, or else, witli bullet, knife, or poison^ put 
a summary end to their wretched lives. Such is 
the history of many a man who has perished in 
that land of gold. 

They left their homes flushed with hope; those 
near and dear to them imprinted the last kiss 
upon their cheeks, and hade them adieu with 
heavy hearts and tearful eyes, but found consola- 
tion in the hope that they would soon return. 
Those who escaped the many dangers of the 
various routes and reached their destination, 
wrote back to their friends immediately upon 
their arrival that all was well. The news was 
received with ecstasy ; heaven was thanked for 
their deliverance from the perils of the trip ; the 
neighbors were informed of the health and safety 
of the adventurers ; and for a few weeks all 
things promised well. In a month or so another 
letter was anxiously looked for, but did not make 
its appearance ; then fears began to be enter- 
tained, and the unwelcome thought would occa- 
sionally flash through the mind that all was not 
well. Nor was it. Month after month slowly 
and gloomily passed away, without bringing any 
tidings of the poor deluded wanderers ; and it 
has now been so long since they were heard 
from, that it is easier to reckon the time by years 
than by months. Still their fate is wrapt in 
mystery which is no more likely to be unraveled 
than is the fate of the President and her crew. 


All that can be concluded is, that they lie some 
where within the confines of California, with no 
monument to reveal the place of their final 

The immigration to California has been too 
much like the rush of an excited and impatient 
audience into a theatre, when it is known that a 
favorite actor is about to perform. There has 
been too much scrambling, too much crowding 
and pushing. Every body has heard that gold 
is scattered over her hills and mountains ; thou- 
sands covet it, and are foolish enough to suppose 
that any body can get it. Without taking a 
calm and deliberate view of the subject — with- 
out balancing both sides, or counting the cost, 
they have suddenly abandoned their homes, and 
rushed in disorder to the land over which hovered 
their visions of wealth. They imagined that 
they had discovered the secret of fortune, and, 
in their enthusiasm, immediately set out to real- 
ize their dreams. They discovered, alas ! too 
late, that their emigration was ill-timed and 
unprofitable, that they had exchanged a good 
situation for a bad one, and that immense sacri- 
fices must be made before they could replace 
themselves in their former position. 

No country can ever become truly great, un- 
less it possesses abundant agricultural resources ; 
and as California is deficient in this as well as 
in other respects, it is absurd to suppose that she 


will attract attention longer than her mines pay 
for working. The banks of the rivers, and the 
localities in the San Jose, Sacramento, and San 
Joaquin Yalle3^s, form exceptions to this general 
sterility. There the ground is low and moist, 
or easily irrigated, the soil is extremely fertile, 
and produces vegetables, which, for size and 
powers of multiplication, have probably never 
been equaled. These spots, however, are little 
more, in comparison with the area of the State, 
than are the roads of a county to the county it- 
self; and they cannot, therefore, be depended 
upon to supply the wants and necessities of the 
whole country, should it ever be thickly settled 
throughout — an event which, for the very reason 
I have mentioned above, I do not believe will 
ever take place. These valleys and the banks of 
the rivers seem to have become the receptacle of 
nearly all the virtue of the surrounding surface 
of the country. As a few specimens of the vege- 
table monstrosities, the productions of these fer- 
tile spots, that have come under my notice, I 
may mention a beet that weighed forty-seven 
pounds ; a cabbage, thirty-two pounds ; a tur- 
nip, twenty-six pounds ; an Irish potato, seven 
pounds ; and a water-melon, sixty-four pounds. 
Onions, lettuce, radishes, and other horticul- 
tural productions, also grow to an enormous 
size. Irish potatoes, however, I beiicve, are the 
most prolific crop that can be planted. Indian 


corn is cultivated to but little if any advantage 
All of the arable parts of the State are now set- 
tled ; and farmers who go thither hereafter will 
either have to return, or abandon altogether the 
idea of cultivating the soil ; for it will be impos- 
sible for them to make a subsistence out of the 
sterile hills of the upland. 

That millions of dollars worth of gold have 
been taken from the mines, and that there is a 
vast amount still remaining, no one pretends to 
deny ; but then it does not exist in the quantity 
that is generally supposed. There is nothing 
more uncertain, as a business, than gold mining 
in California. It is, indeed, like a lottery — more 
blanks than prizes ; and as every man has to 
take his chances, he must not feel too much dis- 
appointed if his luck leaves him with the majority. 
A few make themselves independently rich, and 
go home with flying colors ; but where one does 
it, there are forty or fifty, at least, who, though 
equally sober, industrious and deserving, do not 
make more than their support, and very fre- 
quently not even that. 

Half the stories afloat concerning "wealthy 
returned Californians'' are exaggerated beyond 
the power of tongue to describe. A case or two 
in point : — A young man from the West, who 
had been mining between two and three years, 
and with whom I had become acquainted, started 
home on a certain occasion, with about one huu- 


dred and sixty dollars over and above liis ex- 
penses. In speaking of his friends, I asked him 
what he was going to tell them when he got 
home. " Oh V says he, ^' I shall not admit that 
I have made so little ; for, if I do, they'll accuse 
me of having been indolent, of gambling, of 
drinking, or some other disreputable thing that 
I have never been guilty of; so I'll give out that 
I have made twelve or fifteen thousand dollars ; 
and about the time I shall have got them all in 
a good humor, I'll take an excursion down to 
New Orleans, and thence to South America, 
where I am determined hereafter to seek my for- 
tune." Thus, although he was honorable, and 
not addicted to habits of dissipation, he had not 
the nerve to tell the real truth of his own success. 
This shows how easily these exaggerated rumors 
are set agoing, and public ignorance imposed 
upon. The further people live from California, 
the more credulous are they of golden legends ; 
and I am persuaded that the young man above 
alluded to had no difficulty in making his neigh- 
bors in the West believe he was worth whatever 
amount he cliose to tell them he had made. 
Extravagant as this story may sound, it is not 
without a parallel. A man, who had accumu- 
lated from three to four thousand dollars, re- 
turned on a visit to his friends in the East ; and, 
to test the credulity of the people, he put out the 
report that he had made five hundred thousand 


dollars. His story was received by the gaping 
neighbors without a doubt ; and all at once our 
adventurer found himself the invited guest of 
nabobs who never knew him before he went to 
California^ though they had seen him hundreds 
of times. I cannot close these remarks without 
oifering a word of advice to the marriageable 
ladies. If you seek a rich husband, do not form 
a matrimonial alliance with an El Dorado Cra3- 
sus ; for, in nine cases out of ten, a " wealthy 
Californian" is a poor man. 

Admitting all that is claimed for California 
in regard to her mineral wealth, it affords no 
reason why every body should rush thither ; nor 
is it any argument that it will ever become the 
land of promise which an enthusiastic imagina- 
tion may picture. It is already a pandemonium ; 
and it does not clearly appear how it can become 
an elysium. 

The benefit of mines of the precious metals to 
the country in which they are found, is still an 
open question. Tlie weight of authority is against 
them. The history of Mexico and Peru, in this 
hemisphere, as well as the new chapter which 
California is opening, cannot be quoted in their 
favor. It seems to be decreed that, the more ob- 
lique the route by which gold is reached, the 
greater is its value ; while the more directly it 
is acquired, the more mischievous is it to the 
morals and the material wealth of a nation. If, 

10l> Cni50RT VIEWS, 

as Joseph Bonaparte so happily remarked, "gohi. 
iu its h\st analysis, is the sweat of the poor and 
the blood of the hrave." the more of these ingre- 
dients contribute to prodnee it. the rieher is the 
result. The concurrent testimony of all ages 
proves that those nations who obtain their wealth 
by the indirect methods of agriculture, manufac- 
tures and commerce, are more happy and more 
prosperous than those wlio dig their treasures 
directly from the earth. This result is partly 
brought about by the great diversity of occupa- 
tions which spring up iu such a state of society, 
and give employment to all classes of the com- 
munity : whereas, in a mining region, rich only 
iu the precious metals, the resources of labor are 
fewer, and its tasks less diversitied. The moral 
eliect of sudden riches must also be takeu into 
consideration. Few men can gaze undazzled at 
the splendor of a large fortune : and the more 
rapidly they acquire it, the more likely are they 
to grow dizzy in its contemplation. It seems to 
require time for a man to become habituated to 
the sight of wealth, iu order to enable him to 
enjoy it with ease or dignity. 

We cannot, therefore, conclude that the mere 
presence of gold is sufiicient to advance Calitbr- 
uia to a high position among her sister common- 
wealths. (She produces the circulating medium 
of the country, it is true : and the intrinsic value 
of that medium causes the world to overlook the 


cost of its acquisition. Wc liavc endeavored, 
however, to set people ri<jjlit on tliat subject in 
the chapter entitled " The Balance-sheet/' and 
shall not repeat what was there said. 

We will not ur«;e any comjdaint against the 
climate ; for, in this res[)ect, all classes and con- 
ditions of men can he suited^ whether from the 
burning regions of Central Africa, or from the 
snow-capped mountains of Kussian America. 
Along the southern line of the State it is oppress- 
ively hot, and, as a nuitter of course, is some- 
what enervating ; but in the north and north- 
east, among the mountains, it is extremely cold ; 
and snow, to the depth of from two to ten feet, 
is found there as late as August. Large quan- 
tities of this snow are brought down to the cities, 
a distance of more than two hundred miles, by 
teamsters, and sold as a substitute for ice. The 
northern and southern sections of the State are, 
as yet, but little inhabited or known, except by 
the natives, who, like all other North American 
Indians, are ignorant of any thing beyond the 
limits of their own hunting-ground. In the 
middle or central parts of the State, the climate, 
as a general thing, is delightful, and, withal, 
highly invigorating and salubrious. Around 
San Francisco, particularly, during the winter 
season, Avhen it docs not rain, the weather is un- 
usually mild and pleasant; and I have often 
heard it compared to the climate of Italy. It is 


not so ag-roeablo in suiumor, bocauso the dust 
ami winds prevail to sueli a degree, tliroiigliont 
the dry season, as to become a source of extreme 
discomtbrt. Tlie main objection I have to the 
Calitbrnia climate, as stated in a previous chap- 
ter, is the division oli the seasons into six months 
of dry weather, which burns and scorches the 
earth so severely tlnit nothing will vegetate ; 
and six months of wot weather, during which 
time the rain falls so hard and so fast, that it 
is quite impossible to pertorm out-door labor. 
These two seasons are general — that is, tliey 
affect the entire State : but the temperature of 
the atmosphere varies very much, according to 
locality. In and about the latitude of San Fran- 
cisco, it is rarely ever too cold or too hot : though 
the weather frec|uently changes, three or four 
tiuics in a single day, from calm and warm to 
boisterous and cool, and from boisterous and cool 
to calm and warm again. In other places, where 
the days are intolerably close and sultry, it is 
necessary to have one or two blankets to sleep 
under at night. The remarkable aridity and 
iinfruitfulness of the country at large^ may be 
ascribed to the protracted drought of the sum- 
mer, which begins in April, and lasts until 
about the middle of Xovember. 




TffE Sabbath in California is kept, when kept 
at all, as a day of hilarity and bacchanalian 
sports, rather than as a season of holy medita- 
tion or religious devotion. Horse-racing, cock- 
fighting, cony-hunting, card-playing, theatrical 
performances, and other elegant amusements are 
freely engaged in on this day. If I remember 
correctly, it was about two months after my 
arrival in the land of gold and misery, that I 
had the misfortune to become acquainted with a 
renegade down-east Congregationalist preacher, 
who invited me to accompany him, on the fol- 
lowing Sunday, in a deer-chase. Throughout the 
country, and in the mines, shooting-matches and 
bear-hunting afford pleasant pastimes ; gambling 
is also practiced to a considerable extent, though 
not so much as on other days. But we shall 
probably learn more of the manner in which 
Sunday is spent, if we confine our attention to 
one of the larger cities, San Francisco, for ex- 
ample. Here regattas, duels and prize-fights are 
favorite diversions; and the Lord's day seldom 
passes without witnessing one or the other, or 


botli. IToro, too. for a long time, gaming "vrn« 
licensed on Sundays. j\^ it is yet on "week days ; 
Init recently the city fathers have passed an or- 
dinance prohibiting the desecration, and I be- 
lieve their example has been followed by three 
or four of the other cities. There is no State law 
upon the subject. 

Connected with a tippling-house, on the corner 
of Washington and Montgomery streets, there is 
one of the fuiest billiard-saloons in the United 
States. It is very large, and magnilicently de- 
corated, has twelve tables, and is furnished, I am 
informed, at a cost of twenty-tive thousand dol- 
lars. To this place hundreds of intatuated men 
betake themselves every Sunday ; and it is an 
unusual thing, at any time, to tind one of the 
tables unoccupied. Every day of the week, from 
breaktast time in the morning till twelve o'clock 
at night, this saloon, like many others of a like 
kind, is thronged ; but the crowds are particu- 
larly large on Sunday, because people have more 
leisure on that day. Though, in this particular 
place, they are not allowed to gamble publicly 
on the Sabbath, they lose and win as much mo- 
ney in tlie way of secret wagers as they do openly 
on any other day. 

What can we expect but an abuse of the Sab- 
bath, when we take into account the contrariety 
of characters, tastes, dispositions and religions 
here huddled tOiiether ? When we scrutinize 


society, wc find tliat some of its members, tho 
Chinese and otlier pajjjans for instance, know 
notliin*; at aU of our system or division of time, 
and tliat they are, therefore, absolutely ignorant 
of the meaning of the word Sunday. There is no 
unity of thouglit, feeling or sentiment here; no 
oneness of purpose, policy or action. There is 
no common interest ; every man is for himself, 
and himself alone. Society is composed of ele- 
ments too varied and dissimilar ; — it is a hetero- 
geneous assemblago of rivals and competitors, 
wlio know no sympathy, and recognize no prin- 
ciph^, save that of personal profit and individual 
emolument. Nearl}^ all colors and qualities of 
mankind are congregated here. The great hu- 
man family is, as it were, sampled and its speci- 
mens formed into one societ}^, each communica- 
ting to the other his own peculiar habits, and 
each contending for the same object — the acqui- 
sition of gold. It is manifest, therefore, that 
there can bo but little concert or harmony of ac- 
tion. Masquerade balls, cotillion parties and jig 
dances fill up the list of Sunday diversions. On 
Pacific street alone, the most notoriously profli- 
gate thoroughfare in the city, there are from 
twelve to fifteen dance-houses, in which the 
tcrpsichorean art is practiced every night du- 
ring the week, but \isually with greater zest and 
animation on Sunday nights. Tliese fandangoes 
are principally under the superintendence or 


mauagemGiit of Mexican girls, of whom tliere is 
no small number in San Francisco and other 
cities of the State. Before I ever saw any of the 
Mexican ladies, I had heard the most glowing 
descriptions of their ravishing beauty ; but I 
must either discredit the accounts, or else con- 
clude that my ideas of female beauty are very 
imperfect, for I have never yet beheld one of 
them who, according to my standard of good 
looks, was really beautifuL Their pumpkin 
hues and slovenly deportment could never awa- 
ken any admiration in me, even in California. 

Bonnets among them are quite unknown. 
Half the time they go bare-headed through the 
streets and to church, just as they do about their 
premises ; but most of them have a long, narrow 
shawl, which is sometimes worn over the head, 
as well as the shoulders. This shawl is, in fact, 
an almost indispensable article of apparel, espe- 
cially with the better classes, who never appear 
in a public place, whether in winter or summer, 
without it. They wrap it around their face, head 
and shoulders so ingeniously that spectators can 
not obtain a glimpse of any part of their features, 
save the forehead, eyes and nose ; the mouth, 
chin and cheeks are cautiously concealed. There 
is a £:ross lack of consistenev amons: these wo- 
men. Not withstanding}; thev enfj;a2re in the low- 
est debaucheries throughout the week, they are 
strict attendants of the Catholic church ; and 


dozens of them may be seen any Sunday on their 
way to matins, mass or vespers^ clad in habili- 
ments of the greatest possible variety. If they 
can only get one fine, fashionable garment they 
think it makes amends for the bad material and 
ill shape of all the others. Nor are they partic- 
ular to have their whole person clothed at the 
same time. I don't think I have ever seen one 
of them fully attired in my life ; something was 
always wanting. Sometimes they may be seen 
promenading the streets, robed in the richest 
silks that were ever woven in Chinese looms, but 
when you gaze down at their lower extremities 
you discover them stockingless, their feet thrust 
into a pair of coarse slippers, which expose 
to view a pair of rusty heels that look as if no 
ablution had been performed upon them for at 
least three moons. The Mexicans, however, in 
most cases, are fond of aquatic exercises ; and 
they have several bathing establishments in San 
Francisco, for the accommodation of the public, 
(at one dollar per head for each bath,) as well as 
for their own convenience and gratification. Un- 
less I have been misinformed, it is a custom with 
the proprietors, when a gentleman retires to take 
his bath, to dispatch a female servant to his 
room to scour and scrub him off! As I resided 
near an American bath-house, I always patron- 
ized it in preference, and did not acquaint my- 
self with Mexican usages in this respect. '^ 


Lately, however, women of pure and lofty 
characters have emigrated to California, and, 
since their arrival, there has heen a gradual and 
steady improvement of morals among the people, 
and the Sahbath is now much better observed 
than it used to be. Soon after their arrival, 
schools and churches began to spring up, and 
social circles were formed ; refinement dawned 
upon a debauched and reckless community, de- 
corum took the place of obscenity; kind and 
gentle words were heard to fall from the lips of 
those who before had been accustomed to taint 
every phrase with an oath ; and smiles displayed 
themselves upon countenances to which they had 
long been strangers. Woman accomplished all 
this, and we should be ungrateful reprobates in- 
deed if we did not honor, esteem and love her 
for it. Had I received no other benefit from my 
trip to California than the knowledge I have 
gained, inadequate as it may be, of woman's 
many virtues and perfections, I should account 
myself well repaid ; and I thank heaven that I 
was induced to embark in an enterprise which 
resulted in such a collateral remuneration. This 
I am constrained to say, because I fear I should 
never have had a full appreciation of her merits, 
had I not witnessed her happy infiuence in this 
benighted land. It was only after leaving a 
home where her constant presence, her soothing 
and animating society, appeared as a matter of 


course, and removing to a sphere where she had 
a better opportunity of displaying her power, 
that I could estimate her real worth. 

'* From Avoman's ejes this doctrine I derive: 
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire ; 
They are the books, the arts, the academies. 
That show, contain, and nourish all the world. 

O, then. 
For wisdom's sake, a word that all men love ; 
Or for love's sake, a word that loves all men ; 
Or for rnen's sake, the authors of these women ; 
Or for women's sake, by whom we men are men. 
Let us love women, and ourselves be true. 
Or else we harm ourselves, and wrong them too." 

With the generous assistance and co-operation 
of the gentler sex, the various religious denomi- 
nations have succeeded in establishing for them- 
selves suitable places of worship in most of the 
cities and larger towns throughout the State. 
San Francisco now contains fourteen churches, 
two of which are Presbyterian, two Congrega- 
tional, one Unitarian, three Methodist, two Bap- 
tist, two Episcopal, and two Koman Catholic. 
The Swedenborgians, Universaliets, Mormons, 
and sundry minor sects occasionally hold service 
in public halls ; and, if I recollect aright, the 
Jews have two synagogues. There is also a pa- 
gan temple, where the Chinese pay their adora- 
tions to Boodh, or to some other imaginary deity, 
whenever they experience a religious emotion. 




It was a beautiful Sabbath morning in Novem- 
ber, when the bells aroused me from a dreamy 
sleep ; but before arising from my couch, being 
lazy and inclined to muse, I allowed my fancy 
to recall my departure from Carolina with all 
its attendant circumstances. The hour alone 
would have suggested such meditations, for it 
was on a dewy morning that I bade farewell to 
the loved ones of my far-off home. I recalled 
the yellow lustre of the sun pouring his floods of 
golden light over the glistening tree-tops ; the 
tender adieus, the streaming eyes, the murmured 
blessing. I remembered the sadness of my heart 
as I thought of the distance that would soon 
separate me from the friends and companions of 
my youth, and the high hopes which soothed 
my pain. 

As I was thus pondering I heard the sound of 
drum, fife and clarionet ; and stepping to the 
window to ascertain what was the meaning of 
this Sundav music echoins: throus-h the streets 
of San Francisco, I saw a tremendous grizzly 
bear, caged^ and drawn by four spirited horses 


througli tlie various streets. Tacked to each side 
of tlie cage were large posters, which read as 
follows : — 




The citizens of San Francisco and vicinity are respectfnlly 
informed that at four o^ clock this afternoon, Sunday, Nov. 
lith, at Mission Dolores, a rich treat will be prej^ared for 
them, and that they will have an opportunity of enjoying a 
fund of the raciest sport of the season. Two large Bulls and 
A Bear, all in prime condition for fghiing, and under the man- 
agement of experienced Mexicans, will contribute to the amuse- 
ment of the audience. 

Programme — In two Acts. 
Act I. 


Will be conducted into the arena, and there chained together, 
where they will fight until one hills the other. 

Jose Ignacio, 

Pico Gomez, 

Act II. 

The great bull, " Behemoth," will be let loose in the arena, 
where he will be attached by tioo of the most celebrated and ex- 
pert picadors of Mexico, and finally dispatched after the true 
SjMnish method. 

Admittance |3 — Tickets for sale at the door. 
Joaquin Vatreto, 

I Managers. 

Joaquin VATRETO, 1 ^ 

Jesus Alvarez, P^^^^gers. 

Mission Dolores, the place where these cruel 
sports were held, is a small village ahout two 
miles south-west of San Francisco, which was 


first settled by a couple of Roman Catholic priests 
during the American Revolution. It is con- 
tended by some that this was the first settlement 
effected by white persons in Upper California. 
The buildings are but one story in height, cov- 
ered with tileSj and are constructed of adohe or 
sun-dried clay. With regard to the general as- 
pect of the place, it is distressingly shabby and 
gloomy. For scores of years, the inhabitants, 
^vho are a queer compound of Spanish and In- 
dian blood, have lived here in poverty, ignorance 
and inactivity. But I am digressing. What 
was I to do about the bull-fight? I had never 
witnessed such an exhibition, and consequently 
had a great desire to see it. It was Sunday, 
however, and how could I reconcile the instruc- 
tions of a pious mother with an inclination so 
much at variance with the divine command ? 
Well, without entering into any thing like a de- 
fence of my determination, suffice it to say that 
I made up my mind to go, and went. Anxious, 
however, to moderate or diminish the sin as 
much as possible, I determined to hear a sermon 
first, and go to the bull-fight afterwards. For 
the sake of somewhat condensing the events of 
the day, I concluded to leave the cit}^ immedi- 
ately, and repair to the Mission, there to attend 
an antique Catholic church, which has been built 
nearly three-quarters of a century. 

Starting off with this view, I arrived within 


hearing of the priests' voices about the time they 
began to chant the service^ and on entering the 
rickety old church, much to my gratification, I 
learned that it was an extraordinary occasion 
with them, and that a deal of unusual display 
might be expected. The rite or ceremony of 
high mass was to be performed. Monks and 
friars from the monasteries of Mexico were in 
attendance ; and the church was thronged with 
a large and heterogeneous crowd. 

Four o'clock, the hour appointed for the fight 
between the bear and the bull, having arrived, 
a few taps by the drummer, and some popular 
airs played by the other musicians, announced 
that the amphitheatre, which fronted the church 
and stood but a few yards from it, was open for 
the reception of those who desired admission. 
I made my way to the ticket-ofiice, and handed 
three dollars to the collector, who placed in my 
hand a voucher, which gained me access to an 
eligible seat within the inclosure. I found my- 
self among the first who entered ; and as it was 
some time before the whole audience assembled. 

I had ample opportunities to scan the characters 
who composed it, and to eoiamine the arrange- 
ment and disposition of things around me. 

The seats were very properly elevated so high 
above the arena that no danger was likely to re- 
sult from the furious animals ; and I suppose ^ve 
thousand persons could have been conveniently 


accommodated, tlioiigli only about three-fonrths 
of that number were present. Among the audi- 
tory, I noticed many Spanish maids and matrons, 
who manifested as much enthusiasm and delight 
in anticipation of what was to follow as the most 
enthusiastic sportsman on the ground. Crying 
children, too, in the arms of self-satisfied and 
admiring mothers, were there, full of noise and 
mischief, and a nuisance, as they always are, in 
theatres and churches, to all sober-minded peo- 
ple. Of men, there were all sizes, colors and 
classes, such as California, and California alone, 
can bring together. There was but one, however, 
who attracted my particular attention on this oc- 
casion. I had no recollection of having ever seen 
him before that day. He sat a few feet from me 
on my left. There was nothing uncommon about 
his form or features. The expression of his coun- 
tenance was neither intellectual nor amiable. 
His acquirements and attainments were doubtless 
limited, for he demeaned himself rudely, and ex- 
hibited but little dignity of manner. It was the 
strange metamorphosis he had undergone since 
the morning which won for him my special ob- 
servation. Only four hours had elapsed since I 
saw him officiating at the altar and feasting upon 
a substance which he believed to be the actual flesh 
and blood of Jesus Christ, who died more than 
eighteen hundred years ago ! In the forenoon of 
the Lord's day, he took upon himself the charac- 


ter of God's vicegerent, invested himself with 
sacerdotal robes, assumed a sanctified visage, and 
discharged the sacred duties of his office. In 
the afternoon of the same Sabbath, he doffed his 
holy orders, sanctioned merciless diversions, min- 
gled on terms of equality with gamblers and des- 
perados, and held himself in readiness to exclaim 
Bravo 1 at the finale of a bull-fight. 

By this time the whooping, shouting and stamp- 
ing of the spectators attested that they were ea- 
ger and restless to behold the brutal combat ; and 
an overture by a full brass band, which had been 
chartered for the occasion, gave them assurance 
that their wishes would soon be complied with. 
The music ceased ; the trap-door of the bull's 
cage was raised, and " Hercules," huge, brawny 
and wild, leaped into the centre of the inclosed 
arena, shaking his head, switching his tail, and 
surveying the audience with a savage stare that 
would have intimidated the stoutest hearts, had 
he not been strongly barred below them. His 
eyes glistened with defiance, and he seemed to 
crave nothing so much as an enemy upon which 
he might wreak his vengeance. He contorted 
his body, lashed his back, snuffed, snorted, 
pawed, bellowed, and otherwise behaved so fran- 
tically, that I was fearful he could not contain 
himself until his antagonist was prepared. Just 
then, two picadors — Mexicans on horseback — 
entered the arena, with lassos in hand. Taurus 


welcomed tbem witli an attitude of attack, and 
was about to rush upon one of their horses with 
the force of a battering-ram, when, with most 
commendable dexterity, the picador who was 
farthest off lassoed him by the horns, and foiled 
him in his mad design. As quick as thought, 
the horseman from whom the bull's attention 
had been diverted, threw his lasso around his 
horns also ; and in this way they brought him 
to a stand midway between them. A third per- 
son, a footman, now ran in, and seizing his tail, 
twisted it until he fell flat on his side ; when, 
by the help of an additional assistant, the end of 
a long log-chain was fastened to his right hind- 
leg. In this prostrated condition he was kept 
until the other end of the chain was secured to 
the left fore- leg of the bear, as we shall now 

Running a pair of large clasping-tongs under 
Bruin's trap-door, which was lifted just enough 
for the purpose, they grasped his foot, pulled it 
out, and held it firmly, while one of the party 
bound the opposite end of the chain fast to his 
leg with thongs. This done, they hoisted the 
trap-door sufficiently high to admit of his egress, 
when out stalked '' Trojan," apparently too proud 
and disdainful to vouchsafe a glance upon sur- 
rounding objects. He was a stalwart, lusty- 
looking animal, the largest grizzly bear I had 
ever seen, weighing full fourteen hundred pounds. 


It was said tliat he was an adept in conflicts 
of this nature, as he then enjoyed the honorable 
reputation of having delivered three hulls from 
the vicissitudes of this life. It is probable, how- 
ever, that his previous victories had flushed and 
inspired him with an unwarrantable degree of 
confidence; for he seemed to regard the bull 
more as a thing to be despised than as an equal 
or dangerous rival. Though he gave vent to a 
few ferocious growls, it was evident that he felt 
more inclination to resist an attack than to make 
one. With the bull, the case was very dif- 
ferent; he was of a pugnacious disposition, and 
had become feverish for a foe. Now he had one. 
An adversary of gigantic proportions and great 
prowess stood before him ; and as soon as he 
spied him, he moved backward, the entire length 
of the chain, which jerked the bear's foot and 
made him rend the air with a most fearful howl, 
that served but the more to incense the bull. 
Shaking his head maliciously, casting it down, 
and throwing up his tail, he plunged at the bear 
with a force and fury that were irresistible. The 
collision was terrible, completely overthrowing 
his ponderous enemy and laying him flat on his 
back. Both were injured, but neither was con- 
quered ; both mutually recoiled to prepare again 
to strike for victory. With eyes gleaming with 
fire, and full of resolution, the bull strode proudly 
over his prostrate enemy, and placed himself in 


position to make a second attack. But now tlie 
bear was prepared to receive him : he had recov- 
ered his feet wiki with rage, and he then appeared 
to beckon to the bull to meet him without delay. 
The bull needed no challenge ; he was, if possi- 
ble, more impetuous than the bear, and did not 
lose any more time than it rei^uired to measure 
the length of the chain. Again, with unabated 
fierceness, he darted at the bear, and, as before, 
struck him with an impetus that seemed to have 
been borrowed from Jove's own thunderbolt ; as 
lie came in contact with the bear, that amiable 
animal grappled him by the neck, and squeezed 
him so hard that he could scarcely save himself 
from suffocation. The bull now found himself 
in a decidedly uncomfortable situation ; the bear 
had him as he wanted lii.m. Powerful as he was, 
he could not break loose from Bruin. A vice 
could not have held him more firmly. The 
strong aruis of the bear hugged him in a ruth- 
less and desperate embrace. It was a stirring 
sight to see these infuriated and muscular an- 
tagonists struggling to take each other's life. 
It was enough to make a heathen generalissimo 
shudder to look at them. How ought it to have 
been, tlieu, with enlightened civilians ? This 
question I shall not answer ; it was easy enough 
to see how it was with the Spanish ladies — they 
laughed, cheered, encored, clapped their hands, 
waved their handkerchiefs, and made every other 


sign which was characteristic of pleasure and 
delight. The contending hrutes still strove to- 
gether. Hercules quaked under tlic torturing 
hugs of Trojan. Trojan howled under the vio- 
lent and painful perforations of Hercules. But 
tlie bear did not rely alone upon tlie efficac}' of 
liis arms ; his massive jaws and formidable teeth 
were brought into service, and with tliem he 
inflicted deep wounds in his rival's flesh. He 
seized the bull between the ears and nostrils, and 
crushed the bones with such force that we could 
distinctly hear tliem crack ! Nor were the stun- 
ning butts of the bull liis only means of defence ; 
his horns had been sharpened expressly for the 
occasion, and with these lie lacerated the bear 
most frightfully. It was a mighty contest — a 
desperate struggle for victory ! 

Finally, however, fatigued^ exhausted, writh- 
ing with pain and weltering in sweat and gore, 
they waived the quarrel and separated, as if by 
mutual consent. Neither was subdued ; yet both 
felt a desire to suspend, for a time at least, all 
further hostilities. The bull, now exhausted and 
panting, cast a pacific glance towards the bear, 
and seemed to sue for an armistice ; the bear, 
bleeding and languid after his furious contest, 
raised his eyes to the bull, and seemed to assent 
to the proposition. But, alas ! man, cruel man, 
more brutal than the brutes themselves, would 
not permit them to carry out their pacific inten- 


tions. The two attendants or managers, Ignacio 
and Gomez, stepped np behind them, goading 
them with spears till they again rushed upon 
each other, and fought with renewed desperation. 
During this scuffle, the bull shattered the lower 
jaw of the bear, and we could see the shivered 
bones dangling from their bloody recesses ! Oh, 
heaven ! what a horrible sight. How the blood 
curdled in my veins. Pish ! what a timid fel- 
low I am, to allow myself to be agitated by such 
a tritle as this ! Shall I tremble at what the la- 
dies applaud ? Forbid it. Mars ! I'll be as spir- 
ited as they. But, to wind up this part of our 
story, neither the bear nor the bull could stand 
any longer — their limbs refused to support their 
bodies ; they had worried and lacerated each 
other so much that their strength had completely 
failed, and they dropped upon the earth, gasping 
as if in the last agony. While in this helpless 
condition the chain was removed from their feet, 
horses were hitched to them, and they were 
dragged without the arena, there to end their 
miseries in death. 

The second act of the afternoon's entertain- 
ment was now to be performed. It would be 
unnecessary, and painful to the feelings of sensi- 
tive readers, to dwell long upon this murderous 
sport. It was a mere repetition, in another form, 
of tlie disgusting horrors of that which preceded 
it. Fully satiated with the barbarities I had 


already witnessed, I am not sure that I sliould 
have staid to see any more, had it not been for 
the peculiar sensations which the cognomen of 
one of the actors awakened within me. By re- 
ference to the advertisement, it will be perceived 
that the two managers of this part of the pro- 
ceedings were Joaquin Vatreto and Jesus Alva- 
rez. The latter name sounded strangely in my 
ears. It occurred to me that it was peculiarly 
out of place in its present connection. What! 
Jesus at a bull-fight on Sunday, and not only 
at it, but one of the prime movers and abettors 
in it ! 

But now to the fight. All things being ready, 
the great bull. Behemoth, was freed from re- 
straint, and sprang with frantic bounds into the 
midst of the arena. He bore a suitable appella- 
tion, for he was a monster in size and formidable 
in courage. Two picadors, Joaquin Yatreto and 
Jesus Alvarez, mounted on fiery steeds, with 
swords in hand, now entered and confronted 
him. Behemoth looked upon this sudden inva- 
sion as an intolerable insult. His territory was 
already too limited for so powerful a monarch as 
he considered himself, and he could not think of 
dividing it with others. The sight of these un- 
ceremonious intruders inflamed him with such 
rancor that he could no longer restrain himself; 
but lowering his head and tossing his tail aloft, 
he rushed furiously at them. They evaded his 


charge. The horses were well trained, and 
seemed to enjoy the sport, and to pride them- 
selves upon tlieir adroit mananivres. But botli 
they and their riders had enough to do to evade 
the furv of the enraged brute. Each successive 
bout became more animated and fierce. The 
foiling of the bull's purposes only exasperated 
him the more. There was not room enough in 
his capacious body to contain his eftervescing 
wrath. The foam which he spurted from his 
mouth and nose fell upon the earth like enor- 
mous flakes of snow. Faster and f\ister, and with 
truer aim, he charged his foes. At last one of 
the horses, in attempting to wheel or turn sud- 
denly round, stumbled, and the bull, takinsr ad- 
vantage of the event, gored him so desperately 
in the abdomen that a part of his entrails pro- 
truded from the wounds and trailed almost upon 
the ground ! This was truly a distressing scene. 
I could have wept for the poor, innocent charger, 
but in this case tears were of no avail. 

One of the picadors now alighted, and engaged 
the attention of the bull, while the other led the 
two horses outside the inclosure. When this 
was done, a man on foot, called a matador, 
dressed in close-fittiuix, fantastic i^arments, with 
a heavy sword in his right liand, and a small 
red flag in his left, entered the arena and bowed 
first to the bull and then to the audience. It 
was now a matter of life and death between the 


bull and the matador. One or the other, or 
both, must die. If the bull did not kill the man, 
the man would kill the bull ; if the man killed 
the bull, the man was to live, but if the bull 
killed the man, the bull was to die ; so that 
death was sure to overtake the bull in any event. 
The action commenced, and waxed hotter and 
hotter every moment, and it was only by uncom- 
mon skill and agility that the matador could 
shun the frenzied charges of tlie bull. Had it 
not been for the flag which he carried in his 
hand, and which enabled him to deceive his an- 
tagonist by seeming to hold it directly before 
him, when in reality he inclined it to the right 
or to the left, as his safety dictated, the bull 
would unquestionably have dashed his brains 
out, thrown him over his head, or gored him to 
death. Nothing could have irritated or vexed 
the bull more than did the sight of this red flag, 
and he made all his assaults upon it, supposing, 
no doubt, that he would strike the mischief be- 
hind it, but the agile matador always took spe- 
cial care to spring aside and save himself from 
the deadly stroke. After tormenting, teasing 
and chafing him for about a quarter of an hour 
in this way, six keen javelins or darts, with min- 
iature flags attached, were handed to the mata- 
dor, who ventured to face the bull, and never 
quit him until he had planted them all in his 
siioulders, three in each. Stung to madness, the 


animal reared, rolled and plunged in the most 
frightful manner. Soon, however, he was on his 
feet again, pursuing his persecutor with renewed 

The fates, however, were against him He 
could not comprehend, and consequently could 
not foil the crafty designs of his adversary, who 
completely deceived him with the flag. Night 
was now coming on^ and it heing time to close 
the performance, the matador, placing himself in 
a 2^ompous attitude near the south side of the 
arena, challenged Behemoth to the last and de- 
cisive engagement hy waving the flag hriskly 
before him. The hull, exasperated beyond de- 
scription, needed no additional incentive to urge 
him to meet the enemy. With a force appar- 
ently equal to that of a rhinoceros, and with 
the celerity of a reindeer, he rushed at the ma- 
tador, who, stepping just sufficiently to the left 
to avoid him, thrust the sword into his breast up 
to the hilt. The matador, leaving this sword 
buried in the bull's body, now laid hold of an- 
other, which was on hand for the purpose, and 
stabbed him three times in a more vital part, 
when down he fell at his victor's feet, dead. 
Then jumping upon the carcass of his slain rival, 
the matador brandished his sword, doffed his 
hat, bowed his compliments, and retired, amid 
the deafening plaudits of a wolfish audience. 




Sacramento is situated on the river and in the 
heart of the valley of the same name, about one 
hundred miles north-east of San Francisco. It 
is the second city in the State in size, population 
and commerce, and contains from eight to ten 
thousand inhabitants — being nearly one fourth 
as large as San Francisco. It bears to San 
Francisco much the same relation that Colum- 
bia does to Charleston, or Albany to New York. 
From two to six steamboats daily ply between 
the two cities, conveying passengers and mer- 
chandise; and a vast deal of heavy freight is 
shipped in sailing vessels, which usually make 
the outward and return trip in a little over a 
week. The banks of the river are very low, and 
the current moves sluggishly towards the ocean. 
Flood-tide ascends almost as high as this place. 
The country, for twenty-five miles on either side 
of the river, is an unbroken plain, level as a 
floor, and would be invaluable for agricultural 
purposes were it not for the great freshets of the 
winter and spring, and the incessant drought of 
the- summer and fall — two serious disadvantages 


to the farmer. Sometimes the whole valley is 
completely overflowed and remains under water 
for two or three consecutive months, on which 
occasions it presents the appearance of a vast 
lake. Many new immigrants, who are ignorant 
of the freaks of California seasons, arriving here 
in the summer, settle in this valley, and thank 
their stars that they were guided to an unclaimed 
plat of so much promise. But when winter 
comes and the windows of heaven are opened, 
and the river rises, and the cattle are drowned 
and the houses swept off, and they themselves 
compelled to fly to the upland to save their Jives, 
they begin to discover tlie gloomy fact that they 
have been caught in a snare. 

The site of the city, so smooth and flat, would 
be one of the most beautiful in the world, but 
for the lack of sufficient elevation. For the first 
two or three years after its settlement the in- 
habitants did nothing to protect it from the 
floods, but afterwards, becoming tired of navi- 
gating the streets in scows and skiffs, and will- 
ing to retain some of their goods and chattels 
about their premises, they built a temporary 
levee, which has since kept them tolerably dry. 
It is laid out Avitli the most perfect regularity ; 
its blocks and streets being as uniform and meth- 
odical as the squares of a chess-board. Those 
streets which run from north to south have 
alphabetical names, beginning with A, and end- 


ing witli Z. Only four of them, I, J, K and L, are 
popular ; the others command no business what- 
ever, and hut very few dwellings are situated on 
them. The cross-streets, or those which run from 
east to west, are designated arithmetically, com- 
mencing with 1st and continuing on in regular 
succession. Beyond 7th street, however, there 
are no buildings of any importance. 

At present the legislature meets in this place ; 
but as that august body is possessed of a remark- 
ably roving disposition, having held its ses- 
sions at four different places within the last four 
years, at an extra expense to the State of nearly 
two hundred thousand dollars, it is yet uncer- 
tain whether this will be determined upon as the 
permanent capital. There is no capitol or state- 
house, nor is it likely that California will ever 
be able to build one while its finances are so 
recklessly managed. The receipts and expendi- 
tures of the State have, from the organization of 
its government to the present time, been in- 
trusted to men who, to say nothing of their dis- 
honesty, were as ignorant of the uses of money as a 
prodigal minor. Consequently they have entailed 
a public debt upon the people of more than three 
millions of dollars without effecting any general 
improvements excepting a marine hospital. This 
distinguished body, which now holds its deliber- 
ations in the court-house, contains some of the 
most precious scamps that ever paid devotion to 


the god of pelf; and, were it not that I have nu 
wish to deal in personalities, I could here men- 
tion names which are notoriously infamous all 
over the Atlantic States. Are such men capable 
of devising measures for the public weal, or fit 
to enact laws for the commonwealth ? Whether 
fit or unfit, they are about the only class of 
persons who are intrusted with the functions of 
legislation in this abominable land of concen- 
trated rascality. The people of California, as a 
general thing, would as soon elect an honest, 
upright man to offtce, as Italian banditti would 
choose a moralist for their captain. No one here 
can be successful unless he assimilates himself to 
the people; he must carouse with villains, attend 
Sunday horse-races and bull-fights, and adapt 
himself to every species of depravity and dissi- 

Thus must a man discipline himself before 
he can receive the support and patronage of the 
public. It matters not what his occupation may 
be, whether merchant, mechanic, lawyer or doc- 
tor, he is sure to be ostracized, if he stands aloof 
from the vices and follies of the populace. Of 
course there are a few exceptions. Some men, 
thank heaven, have an innate abhorrence of every 
thing that savors of meanness or vulgarity, and 
they have nerve enough to cling to their princi- 
ples at all times and. in all places. No earthly 
power, even if backed by reinforcements from the 


infernal regions, could make them swerve from 
their fidelity to truth and justice. They have 
clearly defined ideas of right and wrong, and 
regulate their lives and conduct accordingly. 
They understand their duty, and endeavor to 
perform it. They see the evils of soci-ety, con- 
demn and eschew them. There are a few such 
men in California, but they are discountenanced, 
neglected, sneered at, and flouted with oppro- 
brious epithets. They are in bad odor ; the ma- 
jority is against them. The scoundrels are in 
power, and they have wrecked the country. To- 
day the State is lawless, penniless and powerless. 
Such is the effect of the union of two bad things 
, — a bad people and a bad country. It was ne- 
i cessary in the first place, to give even a passable 
1 character to the State, that the administration 
] of affairs should have been committed to men of 
1 pre-eminent sagacity; but instead of pursuing 
I this policy, the common interests have been con- 
( fided to political charlatans, whose actions in 
I every instance have been detrimental to the in- 
! terests of the country. As a poor client suffers 
I in the liands of a pettifogger, or as a patient la- 
boring under an obscure and dangerous disease, 
sinks under the treatment of a quack, so has this 
poor, sick California suffered and sunk through 
the agency of her knavish managers. 

Leaving these wire-pulling senators and hire- 
ling assemblymen, let us take a short stroll 


tliroiigli one or two of the principal streets. We 
shall not observe any thing either curious or 
commendahle in the styles of architecture. The 
houses are low, rarely exceeding two stories in 
height, and are built mostly of wood in the very 
cheapest manner. All the lumber used in their 
construction was brought from Oregon, first to 
San Francisco, and thence reshipped to this 
place. Here and there stands a plain but un- 
commonly stout and substantial brick store. I 
have never seen any buildings in the Atlantic 
States equal, in durability and security against 
fire, to the brick structures in California. They 
must build them so, for reasons heretofore given. 
Stone is not used, at all; there is none in the 

As we wend our way through the town, we 
pass dozens of miserable, filthy little hotels, in 
any of which we can procure a bad meal for a 
dollar. A palatable dinner in one of the more 
respectable hotels will cost us twice that amount. 
We shall be considerably amused at the queer 
and unique canvas signs nailed over the doors 
of some of the dirty little huts and shanties 
around us. One of the taverns announces that 
it has "Tip-top Accommodations for Man and 
Beast;'' at another we can find " Good Fare, and 
Plenty of it ;" a third promises " Kest for the 
Weary and Storage for Trunks ;" a fourth in- 
vites us to "Come in the Inn, and take a Bite;" 


a fifth informs us that " Eating is done here ;" 
a sixth assures us that " We have Rich Viands 
and Mellow Drinks ;" while a seventh admon- 
ishes us to "Replenish the Stomach in our 
House." A bar, at which all kinds of liquors, 
raw and mixed, pure and sophisticated, are dealt 
out, is attached to each of these establishments ; 
and it is generally a greater source of profit to 
the proprietor than the table. Small straw cots, 
with coarse^ blankets, which have never been 
submitted to any cleansing process, are provided 
for the guests to sleep on ; and when they retire, 
they seldom remove any of their clothes, except 
their coats, and sometimes not even those. In 
the morning, when they rise to perform their 
ablutions, a single wash-pan answers for all^ and 
one towel, redolent of a week's wiping, serves 
every guest. 

More than two-thirds of the population of the 
northern part of the State lay in their supplies 
of provisions, clothing and mining implements 
at this place; and we shall notice several teams 
and pack-trains in the streets, loading and pre- 
paring to start on their journey. Mules and 
oxen are chiefly used, though for hauling short 
distances over good roads horses are emj)loyed. 
Some of the more remote mining districts, say 
two hundred miles from this place, are so rugged 
and mountainous that it is impossible to reach 
them with wagons or other vehicles^ and the 


only means of transporting merchandise is npon 
the backs of mules. These hybrids, unaniiable 
as is their appearance, are truly valuable for 
this purpose ; they carry ponderous burdens, 
walk with ease upon the brink of a precipice, 
and can be kept in good serviceable condition by 
provender on which a horse would starve. After 
making a few trips they become very tractable, 
and it requires only four or five men to manage 
fifty or sixty of them. The packers have but 
little trouble with them, after strapping the 
loads on their backs and starting them off". They 
do not go abreast, but each follows closely be- 
hind another, Indian fashion ; and they Avill 
travel patiently in this way from morning till 
night, rarely ever attempting a stampede. 

Between the petty merchants who sell goods 
to those teamsters and muleteers, there is great 
rivalry and competition. I call them petty mer- 
chants because there are so many more of them 
than the business justifies or demands, that each 
one secures but a small share of the custom ; and 
they have to resort to the most contemptible de- 
vices to pay current expenses. Indeed I do not be- 
lieve half of them earn their support. The reader 
may think this strange, and wonder why men 
continue in an occupation which does not yield 
them a maintenance. They do not continue in 
it; their losses soon compel them to leave; but the 
departure of one victim only opens the way for 


the arrival of another. Their stands are imme* 
diately occupied by novices who, after the lapse 
of a few months, sink under the same fate that 
overwhelmed their luckless predecessors. Such 
is the routine of affiiirs all over the State. I 
have never known the time here when business 
was not clogged with double the number of tra- 
ders it required. Ever since San Francisco and 
Sacramento were founded they have been over- 
v^helmed with merchants, and this has been the 
case with every other city and town of any note 
throughout the State. In commercial circles you 
hear continual complaints of the dullness of the 
times. The merchants are always grumbling 
because they have nothing to do, and wondering 
when their business will improve. They live on 
the airy diet of hope ; their good time is ever 
dancing before them, but never waits for them. 
It entices them on and then eludes them, — they 
reach after gold and find dross. 

One reason why there is such an excess of 
business men, is, because American and Eu- 
ropean strangers, who have been led into the 
mistaken opinion that trading is profitable in 
California, are continually arriving with heavy 
stocks of goods, and opening new shops or going 
into the old ones, just vacated by those who could 
no longer sustain themselves under the pressure 
of the times. In this way the humbug is eternally 
nourished. As soon as one simpleton sacrifices 


his effects and retires, '^ a sadder and a wiser 
man/' another fool steps in and takes his place. 
Question the New York, Baltimore and Boston 
shippers concerning the result of their ventures, 
and they will tell a doleful story. Ask the Liv- 
erpool, Bordeaux and Hamburg consignors to 
show the account sales of their factors, and they 
will anathematize the inquirer and California in 
the same breath. Now and then, it is true, when 
the markets are low, as they sometimes are, a 
shipment turns out lucrative beyond anticipa- 
tion ; but when such a tiling occurs it is a mere 
matter of chance, and one gainful shipment oc- 
casions scores of unprofitable ones. Dependent 
as the State is upon importations for all that she 
consumes or requires for use, it must be expected 
that the markets will be very fluctuating and 
changeable, — at any rate, it is so. The price of 
any article does not remain the same two weeks 
at a time. There is almost always a superfluity 
of merchandise in market ; the supply is gener- 
ally double the demand, and many things are 
sold at less than prime cost. Yet, by the time 
this merchandise falls into the hands of the ac- 
tual consumer, it usually costs him from one to 
four hundred per cent, more than he would have 
to pay for it in the Atlantic States. The con- 
signee will probably sell it to a speculator — the 
speculator to a wholesale merchant — the whole- 
sale merchant to a jobber — the jobber to a re- 


taller — the retailer to a muleteer, and the mule- 
teer to the final purchaser or consumer. Or the 
importer may sell it to the city grocer, whose 
onerous rent makes it necessary for him to re-sell 
at an extraordinary advance on invoice rates to 
defray expenses. Thus the charges accruing on 
it, after its arrival, render it very costly. 

I might cite instances of the perfidy and dis- 
honesty of California merchants ; but it would 
be like taking an inventory of the exact number 
of blades of grass in a meadow in order to get at 
the weeds by subtraction, — it would be easier to 
reverse the task. It would require less time to 
tell of those who have been true to their trusts. 
I know one man in San Francisco who received 
a consignment of nearly twelve thousand dollars 
worth of merchandise from his brother in New 
York. He placed it in an auction house — had 
it sold for what it would bring — appropriated 
the proceeds to his own use, and wrote back to 
his brother that all the goods had been destroyed 
by fire. His brother heard of his unfaithfulness, 
came on to San Francisco and reasoned with 
him ; but could neither bring him to terms nor 
find law that would compel the performance of 
a common obligation. The defrauded brother 
returned home without recovering a cent of his 
dues. Another New Yorker consigned twenty 
thousand dollars worth of merchandise to two 
difi'erent commission houses (ten thousand to 


each,) with liinitcd instructions — that is, not to 
sell for less than a certain sum. The factors 
received tlie goods, hurried them through the 
market, put the funds in their pockets, and 
wrote to the consignor, informing him that his 
ventures had been consumed by fire, and sympa- 
thizing with him in his losses! Before long, 
however, the shipper was made acquainted with 
the villainy of his agents, and applied to the 
courts for redress; but this was only employing 
a rogue to catch a rogue. After a deal of ex- 
pense and delay, the case was dismissed. A 
whole cargo of wares and merchandise, valued 
at a trifle less than three hundred thousand 
dollars, was intrusted to another man, who dis- 
posed of it and absconded with the money. 

But why detail these swindling transactions ? 
Volumes upon volumes might be filled with ac- 
counts of the crimes and short-comings of this 
wretched country ; but their perusal would only 
be productive of abhorrence and disgust. If, 
reader, you would know California, you must go 
live there. It is impossible for me to give, or 
for you to receive a correct impression of it on 
paper, — like Thomas, the unbelieving disciple, 
you must see and feel before you can be convinced. 

On the night of the 2d of November, 1852, Sa- 
cramento was almost entirely destroyed by fire. 
Twenty-two hundred buildings, with other prop- 
erty, valued at ten millions of dollars, were com- 


pletely reduced to ashes. The wind was blowing 
very hard at the time the fire commenced, and 
the roaring of the flames, the rapidity with 
whicli they spread, the explosions of gunpowder, 
as house after house was blown up^ formed a 
scene rarely excelled in terrific grandeur. Men, 
women and children ran to and fro in the great- 
est confusion, excited almost to frenzy, in the 
effort to save their lives and effects. Within six 
hours after the fire first broke out, more than 
nine-tenths of the city were swept into oblivion, 
and the people were left to sleep on the naked 
earth without any shelter but the clotliing they 
had on. Happening, too, just at tlie commence- 
ment of tlie rainy season, this conflagration was 
peculiarly disastrous, as thousands were de])rived 
not only of shelter, but also of the means of se- 
curing a comfortable living. Provisions at the 
time were scarcer than I ever knew them before, 
or have known them since; and the extraordi- 
narily high prices which they commanded almost 
precluded the poorer classes from buying or using 
them at alL Flour sold at forty-two dollars per 
barrel, pork at fifty-five, and other eatables in 
about the same ratio. Farther in the interior 
the times were still harder. In some of the dis- 
tant mining localities flour and pork sold as high 
as three dollars per pound — equal to five hundred 
and eighty-eight dollars per barrel; and could not 
be had in sufficient quantities even at these rates. 


Many then suifered the pangs of insatiable hun- 
ger; and I have seen children crying to their 
parents for bread, when there was none to give 

A California conflagration is a scene of the 
most awful grandeur that the mind is capable 
of conceiving. When fire is once communicated 
to the buildings, especially if it be in the dry 
season, when the winds rage and every thing is 
crisped by the sun, it does not smoulder, but 
blazing high in the air, and spreading far and 
wide, it consumes every thing within its reach, 
and leaves nothing behind but cinders and deso- 
lation. No one of the present day, out of Cali- 
fornia, has ever seen such pyramids of flame. 
One of the most beautiful sights I ever beheld 
was during a large fire in San Francisco. It was 
a moonless night, and there was nothing visible 
in the dark concave of heaven, save a few twink- 
ling stars. Others were concealed by the de- 
tached masses of floating vapor which obscured 
them. Soon after the conflagration commenced, 
the brilliant illumination attracted large flocks 
of brant from the neighboring marshes ; and as 
they flew hither and thither, high over the flam- 
ing element, they shone and glistened as if they 
had been winged balls of fire darting through 
the air. Had their j)lumage been burnished 
gold, they could not have been more radiant. 

Before taking our final leave of Sacramento, 


we must not fail to get a glimpse of the Three 
Cent Philosopher, a Mormon polygamist, who 
figures conspicuously in this city as an extor- 
tionate usurer. He was born in the State of New 
York, near the hallowed spot where Jo Smith 
received his apostolic diploma. The Three Cent 
Philosopher does not carry so small a purse as 
his common appellation might seem to indicate ; 
he is the wealthiest man in the place, and is as 
tenacious of his property as of his life. It is sup- 
posed that he is worth very near half a million of 
dollars. Though he believes in polygamy, and 
practices it, yet he never lives with more than 
one spouse at a time ; to have them all around 
him at once would be too expensive. 

When his wife goes out shopping he gives her 
fifty cents, and if she happens to bring back one- 
tenth of the amount, he takes it from her and 
locks it up in his safe. When he travels on a 
steamboat he always takes deck passage, and 
carries food in his pockets to avoid the extra ex- 
pense of dining at the table. While passing 
through the streets he keeps a vigilant lookout 
for stray nails, old horse-shoes, pieces of bagging 
and other refuse, which he picks up, lugs home 
and deposits in his repository of odds and ends. 
Instead of chairs, he sits on stools and boxes of 
his own make ; and, in place of coffee, he drinks 
parched barley tea or watered milk. His dispo- 
sition is quite as sweet as wormwood, and his 


household is usually a scene of as much calm 
and domestic bliss as a family of tomcats. He is 
in the habit of bickering with his family at least 
once every day, and when he does so he rouses 
the whole neighborhood with the noise of his 
oaths and imprecations. In all probability he is 
a lineal descendant of Ishmael, the son of Hagar, 
for his hand is against every man and every 
man's hand is against him. He is at enmity 
with all the world and is despised by every body. 
If his neighbor looks at him, he curses him, and 
if an acquaintance says good-morning to him, 
he tells him to go to h — 11. He has never been 
known to entertain a charitable thought towards 
his fellow-men, nor to speak a good word con- 
cerning his nearest relations. To sum up all, he 
is the extract of ill-breeding, the essence of vul- 
garity, and the quintessence of meanness. 

YUBA — THE miner's TENT. 14'7 


YUBA — THE miner's TENT. 

My first experience in mining was obtained on 
the banks of the Yuba river, a small tributary 
of the Feather, which is itself a branch of the 
Sacramento. Our party, in a stage-coach, left 
Sacramento city early in the morning ; we trav- 
eled due north until late in the afternoon, when 
we arrived at Marysville, a city containing eight 
or nine thousand inhabitants, and situated at 
the confluence of the Yuba and Feather rivers. 
It was in July, and the roads were four to six 
inches deep in dust, which seemed to be as fine as 
bolted flour, and was so volatile that it rose in a 
dense cloud as we passed through it. The heat 
of the sun was oppressive in the extreme, and by 
the time we got to the place mentioned above, 
on*- persons were so besmeared with dust and 
derspiration that it was no easy matter for a 
stranger to determine our natural color. 

I could have made the trip by water, as there 
is steamboat communication between Sacramento 
and Marysville daily ; but having sailed up the 
river as high as this place once before on a pleas- 
ure excursion, I preferred the land route for the 

148 YUBA — THE miner's TENT. 

sake of seeing the country. I was disappointed, 
however; for, as the distance between the two 
cities is a mere continuation of the Sacramento 
valley, I saw nothing materially different from 
the purlieus of the city I had left. The surface 
of the valley is remarkably level, and is sparsely 
timbered with scrubby oaks and other gnarled 
trees of uncommon form. Nor is there any thing 
of unusual interest to be seen in Marysville. Sa- 
cramento is its prototype, and it has been mod- 
eled after that city with scrupulous exactness. 
I never saw two places more alike. 

By means of the same conveyance that carried 
us to Marysville, we resumed our northern jour- 
ney early in the morning of the succeeding day, 
and by twelve o'clock we reached the place of 
our destination. We were now on Long Bar, a 
popular mining place, divided and watered by 
the Yuba. Two miles beyond is Park's Bar, 
which I had visited on a previous occasion ; but 
this was the first time I had ever entered the 
mines for the pur2)ose of digging gold. Now, 
however, I had come to try my luck, and to see 
what the gnomes and fairies would do for me. 

Once fairly started in a miner's life, I could 
not completely steel myself against the extrava- 
gant hopes which seemed to float in the very at- 
mosphere of the mines. Wild and extravagant 
fancies would in spite of me obtrude themselves 
upon what I thought a well-balanced mind. Nor 

YUBA — THE miner's TENT. 149 

were these reveries by any means unnatural, un- 
reasonable though they might be. Thousands of 
miners have, from time to time, indulged hopes 
equally impalpable and transitory. I was stand- 
ing over deposits of gold^ and who could tell 
how large they were, or how easily tliey might 
be found? Who knew but that I should dig 
from these hills more wealth than was ever locked 
up in the vaults of the Rothschilds ? 

I had supplied myself with abundance of pro- 
visions, a pair of good blankets, and every need- 
ful mining implement. Being in what is called 
surface diggings, that is, on a spot where the gold 
lies near the surface of the earth, I could per- 
form all the necessary manipulations myself I 
noticed that those around did not delve deeper 
than from three to four feet in this place. It 
did not pay to go lower ; and whether it paid 
to dig at all, will be seen hereafter. My im- 
plements consisted of a pick, a spade, a pan, a 
bucket, a cradle and a wheelbarrow. The cradle^ 
though rudely made and of rude material, was a 
very good one, and I have since regretted that I 
did not keep it and bring it with me, as it would 
have answered a domestic purpose quite as well 
as a more costly one. The modus operandi of 
single-handed mining may be described in a few 
words. The earth is loosened with the pick, 
thrown into the wheelbarrow with the spade, 
rolled to the river, emptied into the cradle, 

150 YUBA — THE miner's TENT. 

washed by pouring water over it from the buck- 
et, and carefully rocked until the gold is sepa- 
rated from the dirt. The clods of earth, during 
this process of washing, slowly dissolve, or are 
suspended in tlie water, whereupon the gold, (if 
there is any,) being heaviest, sinks to the bottom. 
All the contents of the cradle are then turned 
out, except a thin layer at the bottom, which is 
supposed to contain tlie precious metal. The 
next and last process is to scoop this layer into 
the pan, and wash and rewash it until the dirt 
is entirely separated from the gold. A sieve, or 
rather a piece of jHinctured or perforated sheet- 
iron, which catches the larger stones and other 
insoluble substances, is fixed about midway the 
depth of the cradle. The gold is generally found 
in small particles about the size of grains of 
sand, sometimes not half so large, sometimes 
much larger. The size of the grains, as well as 
the quantity, depends very much upon the lo- 
cality. No lumps larger than a small pea were 
obtained from this bar. 

Fearing that I might make a fortune imme- 
diately, and return to the city without learning 
how the gold gleaners live, I determined not to 
commence operations until I had scrutinized the 
whole bar, tents, miners, mining and all. In- 
deed it was necessary for me to converse with 
some of the miners, in order to acquaint myself 
with their laws respecting claims, dams and wa- 

YUBA — THE miner's TENT. 151 

ter. All surface diggings, when marked out, or 
laid off in small plats, are called bars ; and these 
bars are known by distinctive names, as, for in- 
stance, Rocky Bar, Steep Bar, Sandy Bar, &c. 
The name is not always derived from a peculiar- 
ity of the place. Frequently they are called by 
the names of the men who first discovered gold 
on them, as Brown's Bar, Hall's Bar, Drake's 
Bar; and sometimes they take tlieir names from 
an important event that occurred at or near them 
1 at the time they were opened, as Highwayman's 
I Bar, Rioter's Bar, Murderer's Bar. Among the 
! more fanciful names that designate localities in 
I various parts of the mines are the following : 
I Whiskey Bar, Humbug Creek, One Horse Town, 
I Mississippi Quarters, Mad Ox Ravine, Mad Mule 
I Canon, Skunk Flat, Woodpecker Hill, Jesus Ma- 
I ria, Yankee Jim's Diggings, Death Pass, Ignis 
Fatuus Placer, Devil's Retreat, Bloody Bend, 
\ Jackass Gulch, Hell's Half Acre. 
! Every Bar is governed by such laws as the 
I majority of the miners see fit to enact, not by 
|- written or jmblished documents, but by verbal 
understanding. All the mines are public prop- 
I erty, that is, they belong to the United States 
government, which, in its suicidal lib(^rality, ex- 
ercises comparatively no jurisdiction over them. 
So far as the general government is concerned, 
Chinese marauders and foreign cut-throats have 
the same rights and privileges guaranteed to 

152 YITBA — THE miner's TENT. 

them, in this matter, as American citizens. Be- 
sides the enormous sums of money that the fed- 
eral government paid for California, it did a 
great deal of hard fighting, and now has to keep 
a hody of troops stationed there to prevent the 
Indians from desolating the country ; but aliens, 
who bear no part of the burden, and who refuse 
to become permanent settlers or citizens, are per- 
mitted, nay, encouraged, to come in on an equal 
footing. No tax is levied upon them. They are 
protected from the Indians by our soldiery, and 
share all the benefits with the native citizens ; 
yet they are not required to aid in defraying the 
common expenses. It can hardly be doubted 
that this is bad policy? Would it not be bad 
management in a father, after having bought a 
fiirm, to let strangers come in and carry ofi' the 
fruits of the soil, to the detriment and impoverish- 
ment of his own children ? If so, then our gov- 
ernment, as a general mother, is doubly culpable. 
Almost every Bar is governed by a difterent 
code of laws, and the sizes of the claims vary 
according to locality. In one place a man may 
hold twice, thrice, or even quadruple the num- 
ber of feet that are allowed him in another. One 
fourth of an acre is an average-sized claim. The 
discoverer of new diggings is awarded a double 
or triple share, or only an equal part, as a ma- 
jority of those on the ground shall determine. 
Two claims cannot be held by one person at the 

YUBA — THE miner's TENT. 153 

same time, except by purchase. If a man lets 
his claim go un worked a certain number of days^ 
say five, eight or ten, he forfeits it, and any 
other person is at liberty to take possession of it. 
When a miner wishes to quit his claim only for 
a few days, he stacks his tools upon it, notifies 
two or three adjoining neighbors of his inten- 
tion, and goes where he pleases. If he returns 
within the time prescribed by the laws of the 
Bar, he is entitled to resume his claim ; but if 
he is absent a day longer, it falls to the first 
person, without a claim, who may happen to find 
it. There is more real honesty and fairness 
among the miners than any other class of people 
in California. Taken as a body, they are a plain, 
straight-forward, hard-working set of men, who 
attend to their own business without meddling 
in the affairs of others ; and I have found as 
guileless hearts amongst them as ever throbbed 
in mortal bosom. Genuine magnanimity or no- 
bleness of soul, when found at all in California, 
must be sought among the miners — especially 
among those who are farthest removed from the 
contaminating influences of idlers and gamblers. 
Drones and sluggards — things in the shape of 
men, who are too lazy to work for an honest 
living — are the chief authors of the horrible 
crimes that have rendered this country so odious 
and despicable. They are tlie persons who are 
always creating disturbances ; cheating, robbing 

154 YUBA — THE miner's TENT. 

and murdering ; and there is such a legion of 
them that no i3lace is exempt from their pres- 
ence. Wherever there is money they may be 
seen skulking around it; and if they cannot filch 
it from the rightful owner by intrigue or artifice, 
they will do it by more violent measures. They 
lurk behind the poor drudging miner, even in 
the farthest gorges of the mountains, and there 
butcher him, that they may avail themselves of 
his hard-earned treasures. An incident of this ; 
nature, which terminated most admirably, oc- 
curred near this place but a few days before my 
arrival. A highwayman met a miner in an un- j 
frequented place, and, with a cocked pistol point- ' 
ing towards him, demanded, "Your gold this 
instant, sir, or your life!" "Hold! you shall 
have it,'' exclaimed the miner, when quickly 
thrusting his hand into his breast pocket, as if 
feeling for his purse, he drew his own revolver 
and shot the would-be assassin dead upon the spot. 
While reconnoitering the bar, I made excuses 
to call on several miners who happened to be in 
their tents. As for the tents themselves, though 
nearly all of the same size, they difler very much 
in appearance and quality. A great many are 
made of duck or white canvas; while others are 
built of stunted saplings, which grow sparsely 
throughout the mining region. Those construct- 
ed of the latter material are about the size and 
shape of a common hog-pen, with a stick and 

YUBA — THE miner's TENT. 155 

mud cliimney, which very frequently has a head- 
less whiskey barrel stuck in the top for a funnel. 
These are the best and most comfortable domi- 
cils about the mines ; and it is only when mi- 
ners, or a combination of miners, have large 
claims, which afford them steady employment 
for a considerable length of time, that they are 
enabled to build them. There being no planks, 
] boards, slabs^ nor other sawn or hewn timbers, 
, the poles are covered with brush or coarse cloth, 
1 and sometimes with raw-hides. The ground is 
, the floor in all cases. No chimney nor whiskey- 
i barrel flue graces the gable-end of the canvas 
tent ; it is merely a temporary shelter from the 
scorching rays of the sun and the chilling dews 
1 of the night. Until the miner is successful 

I enough to secure a good claim and build himself 

I I a hovel, of course he is compelled to sleep under 
1 the roof which canopied Adam and Eve, and he 

must take his chances of the tarantula and of 

jl the assassin. 

The interior of the miner's tent corresponds to 
its exterior. Spread upon the ground, on one 
side, we see a pair of rumpled blankets, upon 
which he sleeps. They are thoroughly saturated 
with mud and dust, and have never been shaken, 

i| switched nor sunned since their place was as- 
signed them. Scattered here and there, about 
the edges of the blankets, lie several of Paul de 
Kock's and Eugene Sue's yellow-backed novels, 

156 YUBA — THE miner's TENT. 

whose soiled margins and dog-eared leaves give 
evidence that they are not allowed to go unread. 
Something less than half a dozen packs of cards 
are within reach, while three or four old stumps 
or chunks of wood, employed as substitutes for 
chairs, occupy random positions about the floor. 
In one corner is a keg of brandy or whiskey, and 
in another the cooking apparatus and provisions. 
As for tables, delft-ware, knives and forks, or 
any thing of that kind, there are none. The 
miner always carries his pistol and bowie knife 
by his side day and night, and with the latter 
weapon, aided by his fingers, he reduces his food 
to convenient morsels. 

His cooking utensils consist of a frying-pan 
and a pot, neither of which, except in rare in- 
stances, is ever washed. The pot is mostly used 
for boiling pork and beans, and the old scum 
and scales that accumulate on the inside from 
one ebullition serve as seasoning to the next. 
Pork and beans are two of the principal articles 
of diet with miners, partly because they are com- 
paratively cheaper than other provisions, and 
partly on account of their being so nutritious 
and wholesome. The beans, especially, are very 
fine; they are imported from Chili, and are su- 
perior to any I ever saw in the Atlantic States. 
By boiling as much at one time as the pot will 
hold, the miner generally saves himself the 
trouble of preparing these articles of food oftener 

YUBA — THE miner's TENT. 157 

tlian twice a week. When cooked to suit him. 

he sets the pot on one side, leaving the contents 
in it uncovered; this is his pantry, and out of it 
he makes his meals from time to time, until all 
is consumed, when he replenishes it with a fresh 
supply of the same kind. Flap-jacks are very 
frequently used in lieu of bread. They are a 
combination of flour and water, fried in such 
grease as can be extracted from the pork ; or, if 
the miner has no pork, he bakes them as he 
would other thin cakes of dough. If he is not 
too far removed from a depot of general provis- 
ions, he will probably keep a bottle of molasses, 
which may be seen by the side of the frying-pan^ 
unstopped, and containing an amount of flies 
and ants nearly equal to that of the saccharine 
juice. These entrapped insects do not seem to 
come within the scope of his observation, as he 
never attempts to clear his bottle of them. He 
is not very squeamish about his diet. 

It is but seldom that the miner suspends labor 
on Sunday if his claim is a rich one ; but if it is 
poor, he usually lets it rest on that day, while 
he does his washing and mending. I have al- 
ready said that he carries his bowie-knife and 
revolver with him day and night. There is 
scarcely an exception to this rule ; ninety-nine 
out of every hundred are thus armed, and this 
accounts for the fatal result of almost every al- 
tercation. No matter what it is that occasions 

158 YUBA — THE miner's TENT. 

disputes between men, whether slight misunder- 
standings or grave difficulties, few words are 
handied before they appeal to their weapons, 
and the life of one or the other is sure to he lost 
in the fracas, — sometimes both are killed. This 
barbarous practice of carrying deadly weapons 
is not alone confined to the miners ; you rarely 
find a merchant, mechanic, lawyer doctor, or 
man of any other calling in California, who does 
not keep them concealed about him. By a cal- 
culation, based upon fair estimates, I learn that 
since California opened her mines to the world, 
she has invested upwards of six millions of dol- 
lars in bowie-knives and pistols — pretty play- 
things to give to her children I 

Having surveyed and examined the bar, and 
all that pertained to it, to my satisfaction, I con- 
structed a small canvas tent, and the next day 
began to search the earth in quest of gold. 
Though I was not reared in idleness, this was 
my first lesson in real hard labor. Here, in 
the summer season, the thermometer ranging 
from 90 to 105 degrees of Fahrenheit in the 
shade, mining, when diligently and assiduously 
prosecuted, is certainly the most toilsome em- 
ployment in the world. I imagine that the 
tillage of sugar-fields is pastime compared with 
it, and that the African slaves who gather coffee 
in Brazil, have no adequate conception of hard- 

YUBA — THE miner's TENT. 159 

For three months I applied myself to my tools 
and claim with all the energy of my nature — 
digging, shoveling and rocking, with the snarls 
of grizzly bears to lull me to sleep at night, and 
the howls of hungry wolves to regale my ears 
at the break of day. With all this wear and 
tear of body and mind, my account-current of 
proceeds and expenditures stood, at the expira- 
tion of thai time, giving myself no credit for 
either loss of time or physical exhaustion, just 
ninety-three and three-quarter cents — balance 
on hand ! This was building a palace with a ven- 
geance ! A net profit of ninety-three and a quar- 
ter cents in three months, being " two and six- 
pence" per month, or a fraction over a cent a day. 

Hope, however, did not forsake me, and besides 
that, (shall I confess it ?) I felt a sort of malig- 
nant satisfaction that I was not alone in my dis- 
appointments. I found consolation in the mis- 
fortune of others! When I looked around me, 
and saw scores of dirty, hungrj^, ragged, long- 
haired miners, who had toiled and labored like 
plantation negroes, on this and other bars, for 
more than two year.?, and who could not com- 
mand as much as five dollars to save their lives, 
it buoyed me up, and made me better satisfied 
with my own ill-luck. The feeling that thus 
manifested itself may have been worthy of cen- 
sure, but I am sure it was natural, for no ener- 
getic or enterprising man likes to see his neigh- 

160 YUBA — THE mNER's TENT. 

"bor out-do liim, or surpass liim in tlie acquisition 
of wealth — especially if their chances and oppor- 
tunities have always been the same. If I had 
not been unsuccessful myself, I should not have 
chuckled over the corresponding misfortunes of 
others ; but, to be candid, feeling that my devo- 
tion and application to business entitled me to a 
reasonable share of prosperity, I had but little 
sympathy for my fellow-miners, who, being no 
more worthy of reward than myself, failed in 
their efforts to excel me. I said I had but little 
sympathy for them. I had some. It grieved me 
to see so many stout, athletic men undergoing so 
many privations and discomforts, wasting their 
time in un]3rofitable schemes, only to be at last 
subjected to the most galling disappointments. 

The time had now come, however, for other 
thoughts and considerations. A change of loca- 
tion seemed to be necessary. The profits of mi- 
ning did not warrant longer continuance at this 
place. It occurred to me that the sum of ninety- 
three and three-quarter cents was but indifferent 
remuneration for three months' herculean labor. 
I wished to have nothing to do with this lying 
equivalent, so handing it over, with my compli- 
ments, to a poor, needy, hungry-looking neigh- 
bor, I shook the dust from my feet and departed, 
after the manner of Lot when he left Sodom, not 
deigning to look behind — not for fear, however, 
of being turned into a pillar of gold. 




I HAVE perambulated the streets of San Fran- 
cisco, Sacramento, Marysville and Stockton ; but 
of all the California cities, after San Francisco, 
Stockton is my choice. It is named in honor of 
Commodore K F. Stockton, and is situated on a 
tributary of the San Joaquin river, which emp- 
ties into the Suisun Bay, opening into the Bay 
of San Francisco. Being but a little over one 
hundred miles to the east of San Francisco, it 
enjoys the advantages of daily steamboat com- 
munication with that place ; but owing to the 
narrow banks of the stream and the shallowness 
of the water, the vessels are much smaller than 
those emjjloycd upon the Sacramento. It con- 
tains from six to seven thousand inhabitants. 
Though only the fourth city in the State in 
population, it is the third in business. All the 
residents of the southern mines draw their sup- 
plies from it ; and as it is blessed with a mild 
climate, it is frequently resorted to by those who 
seek pastime or recreation. 

The San Joaquin valley, in the midst of which 
this city is situated, would probably be the best 


agricultural land in tlie State, if the water could 
be drained from it ; but in its present low and 
boggy condition, it is utterly unfit for cultiva- 
tion. It takes its name from the low-banked 
river which meanders through it, and is as level 
as a garden. No vegetable production is found 
upon it, except the tule, a tall, pithy species of 
rush or calamus, which bears a more striking re- 
semblance to the flag than to any thing else of 
Atlantic growth. This tule, which grows as 
thick as it can stand, and from six to eight feet 
in height, is an annual plant ; and in the fall of 
the year, if fire be communicated to it during 
the night, when there is a light breeze stirring, 
it burns with an indescribable splendor. I have 
said that this aquatic weed is tlie only natural 
product of the valley; this is true, as regards all 
that part which is perfectly level, and which 
presents the appearance of a vast meadow ; but 
as we approacli the Coast Kange on the south- 
west, or the Sierra Nevadas on the north-east, we 
come to slightly elevated knolls, upon which we 
find clumps of gnarled oaks. These trees all 
lean towards the east, as if bowine: their heads 
in adoration, liaving grown in this reverential 
posture while under the influence of the winds 
from the west. 

This valley afi'ords another evidence of the un- 
favorable condition of the country. It sho^vs 
conclusively that even the most valuable parts 


of the State are encumbered with insurmount- 
able impediments. The bottom lands, which 
are mainly relied upon for agricultural purposes, 
are too wet to till, and too low to drain ; while 
the uplands are so dry and sterile that neither 
grains, plants nor fruits can be raised upon them. 
There is either too much moisture or none at all. 
It is a land of mountains and mud-holes. Still, 
there are some extensive plains and valleys which 
might be successfully cultivated, if the seasons 
were adapted to them ; but the absence of rain 
during the summer renders them of little or no 
value to the farmer. It is very probable, how- 
ever, that in the progress of time, as the other 
members of the confederacy become burdened with 
population, the more eligible parts of this State 
will be settled and, by means of irrigation, made 
tolerably productive ; but when California is thus 
peopled and converted into a place of permanent 
habitation, it will be by the force of destiny, 
rather than by any attractions it can offer to im- 
migrants. They may make it their home as a 
dernier resort, but they will not do it as a mat- 
ter of choice. So long as there is any unappro- 
priated territory in other parts of the Union, 
California will not be in demand. 

We shall find but few things deserving at- 
tention in the city of Stockton, having already 
examined its archetypeS;, San Francisco and Sac- 
ramento. It is due to this place to remark that. 


notwithstanding all its Peter Funk and Cheap 
John establishments, it sustains a better charac- 
ter than any other city in the State. Though it 
has its share of groggeries and gambling -houses, 
and is, in most res2:)ects, fitted out in true Cali- 
fornia style, it is not infested with so many 
drones and desperadoes as are usually met with 
in neighboring towns. I am well acquainted with 
many of its citizens and know them to be esti- 
mable men — not too lazy to work, nor too sour 
to laugh at a merry thing. 

Sonora is an inland town, situated in the 
midst of one of the richest mineral regions in 
the southern part of the State. A stage-coach 
aifords the most convenient and expeditious 
means of reaching this place, which lies about 
fifty miles to the south-east. Starting early in 
the morning, we travel as fast as a dare-devil 
driver can make four horses convey us — fre- 
quently meeting and overtaking numerous pack 
trains, pedestrians and ox-teams, passing to and 
fro between the mines and Stockton. A part of 
the country over which our road leads us, is a 
somewhat elevated plain, which, being entirely 
destitute of trees and other vegetable products, 
presents a most dreary and uninviting prospect. 
We see nothing around us but the naked earth. 
There is no accommodation for either bird or 
beast — no resting-place for the one, nor food for 
the other. The pack-trains, pedestrians and ox- 


teams, constitute the only animal life in view ; 
and as we see them plodding along over this 
barren waste, our memories are refreshed with 
vivid recollections of those stories, which Ave 
read in former days, of caravans crossing the 
great desert of Sahara. 

It is a fact worthy of being here recorded, as 
illustrative of the success of the miners, that we 
shall observe a larger number returning on foot 
than we find going. I was amused one day, 
while on my way to the regions of hidden treas- 
ure, when meeting a ragged, hairy, Esau-looking 
pedestrian, he hailed me with " Hallo." " How 
are you?" answered I. "Which way?" asked 
he. " To the mines," replied I. " Well, my 
friend," said he, "you will excuse me for speak- 
ing plainly ; this is a free country and I presume 
you are at liberty to go to the mines or to the 
d — 1, just as you please ; but, mark my words, 
if you are going to the mines to dig, Til be d — d 
if you don't rue the act." " May-be not," re- 
marked I. " Very well," he added, " you'll see. 
By the time you delve and toil two long years, 
under the broiling sun as I have done, and have 
seen others do, without making a decent living, 
you'll perceive the truth of what I tell you." 

Steadily pursuing our course, about twelve 
o'clock we came to the Stanislaus Kiver, a small 
tributary stream of the San Joaquin. Here we 
stop to change horses and get dinner, there 


being a sort of bastard hotel near tbe brink of 
the river. Numerous Indians^ naked and hun- 
gry, could be seen prowling about this place, or 
seated in squads, partaking of a mess of worms, 
young wasps, grasshoppers, or any other similar 
dainty to which their good stars may lead them. 
It was a long time before the savage creatures 
would tolerate the presence of the white man 
amongst them ; but they have been so repeatedly 
routed in battle, that they have now given up 
open hostility and are comparatively peaceable ; 
still they secretly cherish the most implacable 
enmity to our race, and improve every oppor- 
tunity to dispatch us when they can do so with- 
out being detected. They gain nothing, how- 
ever, by these covert misdeeds ; for our people, 
understanding their insidious conduct, retaliate 
by deliberately shooting them down whenever 
they come in their way. What the white man's 
life is valued at by the Indian, is probably not 
known ; but the white man hurls the Indian 
into eternity with as much nonchalance as 
though he were a squirrel. 

Having appeased our appetites and secured the 
services of a fresh team, we cross the river and 
resume our journey. As we advance towards the 
place of our destination, the face of the country 
changes, from level plains to rugged slopes and 
woodlands. In the forenoon our road, though 
disagreeably dusty, was both smooth and straight. 


but now it winds over rocky glades, hills and 
gullies ; and as the wheels of our vehicle mount 
and descend the rough impediments, we are jar- 
red and shaken without mercy. Approaching 
still nearer the end of our journey, we have to 
contend with a more difficult and uneven surface ; 
but being in charge of a very skillful driver, 
we are drawn safely over every rock and crag. 

Arriving in Sonora between sundown and 
dark, we repair to a public house, and bespeak 
supper and lodgings for the night. The best 
hotel in the place is a one-story structure, built 
of unhewn saplings, covered with canvas and 
floored with dirt. It consists of one undivided 
room, in which the tables, berths and benches 
are all arranged. Here we sleep, eat and drink. 
Four or five tiers of berths or bunks, one directly 
above another, are built against the walls of the 
cabin, by means of upright posts and cross- 
pieces, fastened with thongs of raw-hide The 
bedding is composed of a small straw mattress 
about two feet wide, an uncased pillow stuffed 
with the same material, and a single blanket. 
When we creep into one of these nests, it is op- 
tional with us whether we unboot or uncoat our- 
selves ; but it would be looked upon as an act of 
ill-breeding, even in California, to go to bed with 
one's hat on. Having once resigned ourselves 
into the arms of Morpheus, we are not likely to 
be disturbed by the drunken yells and vocifera- 


tions of niglit-brawlers, now that we liavc be- 
come accustomed to such things. The noisy 
curses of the rabble Avill have no more effect 
upon us than the roaring water-fiill or the mill- 
wheel has upon the miller. Night glides away, 
morning dawns, and we rise from our bunks to 
battle with another day. On the outside of the 
tavern, whither we betake ourselves to wash, are 
a tub of water, a basin and a towel, for all the 
guests ; but as only one person can perform his 
ablutions at a time, it will be necessary for us to 
form ourselves in a line, and take our turn — the 
first comers being entitled to the front places. 
We are now ready to replenish the inner man. 
The bar is convenient for those who wisli to im-^ 
bibe. Breakfast is announced. We seat our- 
selves at the table. Before us is a reasonable 
quantity of beans, pork and flapjacks, served up 
in tin plates. Pea tea, which the landlord calls 
coffee with a bold emphasis, is handed to us, and 
we help ourselves to such other things as may 
be within reach. 

1^0 matter what kinds or qualities of viands 
are set before us, so that there be sufiicient, for 
our stomachs have become so well tempered by 
this time that we feast upon them with as much 
gusto as if we were dining in a French restaur- 
ant. Neither spices, sauces nor seasonings are 
necessary to accommodate them to the palate. 
Our appetites need no nursing. Honest hunger 


disdains such dyspeptic accompaniments as the 
contents of cruets and casters. The richest con- 
diments are the poorest provisions. 

Our fast is broken — we are satisfied. The pro- 
prietor of the hotel, with his two male assistants, 
begins to clear off the table. Women have no 
hand in these domestic affairs. There is not a 
female about the establishment. All the guests, 
owners and employees are men. The dishes are 
washed, the blankets straightened in the berths; 
and while the cook is preparing dinner, some of 
the tavern-loungers seat themselves around the 
table, to take a friendly game of euchre, whist, 
seven-up, laugh-and-lay-down, old-maid, com- 
merce or matrimony, while others saunter off to 
the gambling houses, of which there are about 
half a dozen in the place, to play at roulette, 
monte, faro, poker, twenty-one, all-fours or lans- 
quenet. Such is hotel life in California, espe- 
cially in the country towns and throughout the 
mining region. 

Frequently several of the guests are fuddled, 
and as there are no partitions or apartments in 
the building, by which one person or set of persons 
may be separated from another, they are a most 
prolific source of annoyance to their sober neigh- 
bors. I recollect one occasion particularly, when, 
fatigued by a long day's journey, I stopi)ed at 
one of these mountain taverns in the hope of en- 
joying a comfortable night's rest. Soon after 


eating my supper, wliicli consisted of tlie stan- 
dard dish, pork and beans, I crept into one of 
the farthest bunks, annoyed by the blackguard- 
ism and segar fumes of a group of drunken card- 
phiyers, who occupied a table near the centre of 
the room. These swaggering inebriates, noisy 
as they were, did not prevent me from sleeping, 
as I had become habituated to witnessing such 
nocturnal carousals; but towards midnight, in 
came a wild, blustering lunatic, who had lost 
his reason about a week before, yelling and 
screaming as if a legion of fiends were after him. 
He was bare-footed, bare-headed and bare-legged, 
having no clothing upon his person, except a 
shirt ; and I understood afterwards that he had 
been roaming about the place four or five days 
and nights in this condition. Making some in- 
quiry concerning his history, I learned that he 
was a lawyer by profession, that he had formerly 
figured as an able and influential member of the 
Maine Legislature, and that, becoming embar- 
rassed in his financial affairs, he left his family 
and emigrated hither in the hope of retrieving 
his fortune. Shortly after his arrival, not find- 
ing employment for his talent as a counselor, he 
determined to seek the favor of the mines ; but 
his efibrts in that quarter proved unavailing. 
For nearly a year he had toiled vigorously and 
incessantly, but to no purpose. He could not 
discover the hidden treasure which he sousjht. 


Disappointed and chagrined at the result, he re- 
signed himself to the hottle. The remembrance 
of his dependent and far distant family, coupled 
with the mischievous influence of ardent spirits, 
increased and sharpened his mental suffering ; 
his mind began to vacillate — his reason lost its 
equilibrium, and we now find him a raving 
maniac. More than half naked, friendless and 
forlorn, he wanders about the streets and through 
the woods, day and night — a poor, miserable, 
crazy vagabond. Why, it may be asked, was 
there not some public provision made for the re- 
moval and security of this pitiable nuisance? 
Simply because it was in California. Here, where 
there is nothing as it should be, this unhappy 
man was allowed to run at large. No one cared 
for him. He was supposed to be harmless, and 
was, therefore, permitted to live. If he had in- 
flicted any bodily injury upon any one, he would 
probably have been shot or stabbed, and that 
would have been the end of the drama. Cases of 
this or a similar character are to be met with 
almost every day. I only mention this as a sin- 
gle instance. 

To give a faint idea of the precocity and way- 
wardness of youth in this country, I will relate 
a bloody incident which occurred at another ho- 
tel, where I had put up for a night's lodging. 
In this case the landlord, a short, lean Massa- 
chusetts Yankee, was married and had his fam- 


ily with liim. His eldest son, Ned, had not seen 
his ninth year. Nevertheless, this boy had 
learned to gamble. Whether his father or 
mother had instructed him in the art, or whether 
he had been tutored by the blacklegs frequent- 
ing the hotel, I am unable to say ; but it was 
very evident that his parents cared very little 
about the matter, for they permitted him to 
play cards in their own house, and seemed to 
pride themselves upon his proficiency. Indeed, 
he was so dexterous in his manner of shuffling 
and dealing, and so quick to perceive the course 
and probable result of the game, that he was 
known throughout the neighborhood as the gam- 
bling prodigy. It may be questioned whether 
Hoyle himself was so conversant with diamonds, 
hearts, clubs and spades at so early an age. 

Supper was now over, and the tables were sur- 
rounded with players. Little Ned had his place 
amongst them. I watched him more than an 
hour. He handled the cards with so much grace, 
skill and agility, and seemed to be so perfectly 
familiar with every branch of the game, that I 
could not withhold my admiration. As the night 
advanced, the parties became involved in a quar- 
rel. Some one accused Ned of unfairness in 
changing the position of certain cards. Violent 
oaths and maledictions followed this accusation. 
Inflamed with anger, and assuming a menacing 
attitude, Ned denounced his accuser (a full grown 


man, three times as large and four times as old 
as himself,) as "a pusillanimous liar and scoun- 
drel," and added, " G-d d — n you, I'll shoot 
you Y' By this time the excitement had reached 
a high pitch. Things began to wear an alarm- 
ing aspect. Several persons took sides in the 
matter, some for Ned and some against him. A 
general row seemed to he inevitable. Ned had 
the largest number of friends; but his enemies 
were clamorous and obstinate in their assertions 
that he had departed from the rules of the game, 
and declared in positive terms that he was a dis- 
ciplined cheat. 

Finally, however, Ned's friends took upon 
themselves all the responsibility of his behaviour, 
and the war of loud invectives and imprecations 
was now waged more by the adherents of the 
original disputants than by those disputants 
themselves. The bandying of gross epithets at- 
tracted the attention of a large crowd. Serious 
consequences were apprehended. The occasion 
was pregnant with mischief One of the despe- 
radoes jerked a bowie-knife from his pocket, and 
was about to plunge it into tlie body of his an- 
tagonist, when another drew a revolver and shot 
him. A few struggles — a few groans, and the 
fallen man had ceased to live. But the injury 
was not confined to him alone. As the ball 
passed through the breast of the man at whom 
it was aimed, it lodged in the shoulder of an in- 


nocent spectator, inflicting a severe but not mor- 
tal wound. And now was enacted one of those 
awful scenes of retribution for which California 
is so notorious. The man who had just commit- 
ted the homicide was seized by the mob, and, 
amid loud cries of " hang him! hang him!" led 
out to a tree and there summarily executed ac- 
cording to the prompt sentence of the excited 
multitude. It was a season of dreadful uproar 
and commotion. The man who was shot had 
not been dead half an hour before his murderer 
was suspended by the neck between heaven and 
earth. Thus we have seen the blood of two men 
shed in the quarrel of a stripling, who had not 
attained half the age of manhood, but who al- 
ready was a reckless and abandoned little gam- 
bler. If we deemed it necessary, we might cite 
other instances of a similar character. Suffice it 
to say that this boy, Ned, may be taken as a lair 
sample of the rising generation in California. 
Of course, they are not all exactly like him, any 
more than two persons are exactly alike any 
where else ; but the same unlimited freedom is 
extended to them all ; they are allowed to do 
just as they please. What else can be expected? 
Is it to be supposed that parents who put no re- 
straint upon themselves will govern their chil- 
dren with propriety ? If the lather is an habit- 
ual gambler, drunkard and desperado, will not 
the son be so too ? 


The truth is, there is no attention paid to the 
moral, mental or physical discipline of youth in 
this country. They are left to their own will 
and inclination, to grow up, like the plants and 
weeds in a neglected garden, without culture or 
training. Surrounded as they are with so many 
Examples of depravity, what sort of men and 
women are they likely to he ? It is prohable 
that the world has never reared such a horde of 
accomplished scamps and vagabonds, male and 
female, as will soon emerge from the adolescent 
population of the Eureka State. The signs of 
the times warrant this conclusion. How can it 
be otherwise when they are familiar with every 
vice, and strangers to every virtue ? It matters 
not how strict or careful the parents themselves 
may be, it is impossible for them to shield their 
children from the baneful influences of the neigh- 
borhood ; and a man might as well think of 
raising a healthy and stalwart family in the 
midst of a malarious swamp, as to think of rear- 
ing decent sons and daughters in California. The 
boys persuade themselves that they are men be- 
fore they are half matured ; and their superiors 
are either too little concerned about it, or too 
deeply engrossed in business to teach them bet- 
ter. As a consequence of this precocious manli- 
ness, they give themselves up to all the pernicious 
habits and indulgences of older reprobates. 

A few words now in regard to this town of So- 


nora. It is built upon the slope of a long hill, 
and contains about four thousand inhabitants. 
Only one street traverses it. Unlike most other 
towns, its length is very much disproportioned 
to its breadth. As well as I remember, it is 
something over a mile long, and only about one 
hundred yards wide; so that the single street 
which passes through it affords an ample avenue 
for the intercourse and business operations of the 
people. The houses, or, more properly speaking, 
the shanties, are built close together, and open 
on the street, in city style. Indeed, it is here 
called a city, and is governed by a mayor and 
common council. In fact, every collection of 
houses in this country, every hamlet, every vil- 
lage, every town, is called a city. No matter if 
there be only half a dozen houses in a place, it is 
termed a city, always taking the name of the lo- 
cality upon which it is built, as Collusi city, 
Stanislaus city, Marin city. I have visited two 
or three of these California " cities " that con- 
tained but a couple of frail tenements each, and 
four or five old bachelor inhabitants. 

Before it was ascertained which were the nat- 
ural or most suitable and convenient parts of the 
State for city sites and trading posts, there was 
a wonderful deal of finesse practiced by a set of 
land-speculators. Scattering themselves over the 
country, they laid claim to certain eligible plats, 
which, according to their stories. Nature had 



formed expressly for capitals and queen cities. 
Large maps, margined with laudatory remarks, 
setting forth the peerless advantages of this 
place and that, were committed to oily-tongued 
agents for general circulation. The people were 
informed that such a place was destined to he- 
come a metropolis, that all the surrounding 
mountains, hills, valleys and plains were hound 
to hecome tributary to it, that the great system 
and machinery of the world could not move on 
harmoniously without it, and that those who se- 
cured the first choice of lots would at once he in 
possession of a lordly fortune. This, as a mat- 
ter of course, was all sheer humbug ; neverthe- 
less, in California, where humbug mingles with 
every transaction of life, and where people are 
ever ready to lay hold of any scheme that prom- 
ises money, it had the desired effect. 

Many persons had confidence in these projects, 
and made investments in them. Besides several 
individual cases of which I might speak, I am 
acquainted with a company of men who laid out 
more than one hundred and fifty thousand dol- 
lars in this questionable species of property ; — 
to-day their investment is not worth two cents 
on the dollar. It was perfectly amusing some- 
times to witness the working of these bastard 
enterprises. The authors and agents of the plan, 
having their topographic charts and every thing 
in readiness, would bustle about among the peo- 


pie, pointing out and explaining the favorable 
and comraanding situation of the place, assuring 
them that the attention of the whole country 
was now directed to it, and giving the most ex- 
asrsrerated accounts of the demand for lots. In 
this way they would soon get up a great excite- 
ment, (it requires but a small matter to excite the 
people in California.) In a few instances, as many 
as seventy or eighty persons have been known to 
purchase interests in one of these bubble cities, 
and, laying aside all other business, flock to it 
without delay. Three weeks afterwards, there 
would probably be only one or two men on the 
ground, and no marks or vestiges of a city, ex- 
cept, perhaps, a few deserted cloth tents. It 
must be admitted that the projectors of these 
ephemeral cities made money at the expense of 
their victims. 

Tlie Americans were the principal operators 
in these speculative movements ; but I know 
several Germans, who, though proverbially cau- 
tious in the matter of dollars and cents, were 
likewise drawn into them. In one particular 
case, two worthy representatives of the Fader- 
land bought four lots, each forty-five by one 
hundred and thirly-seven feet, for thirteen thou- 
sand dollars, which they afterwards offered to me 
at ninety-five per cent, discount! I would not 
have taken the whole or any part of the plot at 
the rate of six dollars an acre. 


I have alluded, parenthetically, to the excita- 
bility of the Californians. This is a remarkable 
trait in their character. The least thing of un- 
usual occurrence fires their fancy and sets them 
in motion. If a terrier catches a rat, or if a big 
turnip is brought to market, the people clus- 
ter together and scramble for a sight with as 
much eagerness and impetuosity as a party of 
children would scramble after a handful of 
sweetmeats. If, in these hasty gatherings, one 
man happens to tread on the toes of another, it 
only requires one minute for the injured party 
to shoot the offender, two minutes for some body 
else to stab the shooter, and three minutes for 
the whole crowd to hang the stabber. 

While in and about Sonora, we may have an 
opportunity of inspecting all the various systems 
of mining that are carried on in California. The 
whole earth, for some distance around, is liter- 
ally turned upside down, or inside out. On the 
left, they are using the common single-hand 
rocker ; on the right, sluicing ; and in another 
place, sinking deep shafts. We shall here find 
a great many Mexican miners, who make deep 
pits and excavations in the hills, and who are 
generally very successful in their operations. 
These delving countrymen of Santa Anna seem 
to have a peculiar tact for discovering the veins 
of gold. But they do not confine themselves 
much to surface diggings. They have a greater 


propensity for holes. Sometimes they will go 
forty or fifty feet into the earth without finding 
an atom of the precious metal ; but it is very 
seldom that they mistake their ground ; they 
keep going, either in a perpendicular, horizontal 
or meandering direction, until they strike the 
ore. Except in working quartz veins, machinery 
has been but little employed, as yet, in develop- 
ing the mineral resources of the State ; but I am 
inclined to the opinion that it might be advan- 
tageously applied in gathering the gold in what- 
ever form it may exist. 

A part of the preceding chapter was devoted 
to observations upon the habits of life and per- 
sonal appearance of the miner ; but I neglected 
to mention his peculiar characteristic or append- 
age : this is the long hair upon his head and 
face. He neither shaves nor shears ; he has no 
use for either razors or scissors. The tonsorial 
art is, in his estimation, a most reprehensible 
and unmanly innovation. Looking upon it as 
one of the fashionable foibles of society, he disa- 
vows all connection with it. He believes that 
Nature is not apt to make mistakes, that all 
things were created about right, that hair was 
placed upon man's head and face to harmonize 
Avith the other organs of his body, that it has its 
distinct and peculiar ofiices to perform, and that 
if it is cut, the whole animal economy will be 
more or less enervated. Such is something of 


the ffiitli of the niiiKif upon this Iritorostirig Hiib- 
jcct, whioh liiis of late ))0(;ri kikjIi a tlujirH; of dis- 
cussion aiMoii;^ th(i iiiustaohiocd and non-musta- 
(;hioed world. 

I confess inys(dr, in fact, a eonvci't to his no- 
tions. To say tliat tlie wliiskcrs or tlic hair 
sliould never be trimmed, would be as much as 
to say that the finger-nails should never be 
pared; while to say that the beard or the hair 
should be cut close to the skin, would be the 
same as saying that the finger-nails should be 
pulled out by the roots. If we shave the chin 
and the cheeks, why not the head^ the hands and 
the arras? IIow comes it that hair is less tole- 
rable on the side of tlie face than on the Ijack of 
the hand? The Chinaman shaves his head all 
j over, except a small spot on the crown, about 
1 twice the size of a dollar, and we laugh at him 
for doing so; but may it not be f£uestioned which 
1 is the greater object of derision, a bald head or a 
^ beardless face ? We are also in the habit of ridi- 
culing young ladies because they lace or compress 
their waists, but would it not be equally becom- 
ing in tliem to sneer at us for disfiguring our 
faces? What would we tljink of the belles, if 
they were to got in the ha]>it of wearing false 
I whiskers? WouM we not characterize the in- 
troduction of such a fashion as a silly and 
whimsical innovation? But is it any more 
ridiculous or censurable in a woman to make 


her face masculine, than it is in a man to make 
liis feminine ? 

That the heard is a protection against sore 
throats, coughs, colds, asthma, and other ail- 
ments, every California miner will he willing to 
testify. It is said that the English colliers, who 
have long suffered from hemorrhage of the lungs, 
have evaded the disease altogether hy discontin- 
uing the use of the razor. Yet the newspapers 
inform us that the clerks in the Bank of Eng- 
land are not allowed to wear mustachios, under 
penalty of dismission. 

As I have heretofore remarked, mining in Cal- 
ifornia is one of the most precarious of all occu- 
pations. Yet it is the country's only source of 
wealth, and if the lahorer fails in it, he cannot 
betake himself to other jmrsuits. If he cannot 
make money by digging, shoveling and rocking, 
he cannot make it at all. Now and then, it is 
true, the miner meets with unanticipated good 
luck ; hut when such a thing occurs it is blazoned 
from Dan to Beersheba, whereas no mention is ever 
made of the thousands of unfortunate, poverty- 
stricken dupes, who, though equally industrious 
and deserving, scarcely defray their expenses. 

I may refer to the case of an old man, who, 
for some time, was engaged in mining opera- 
tions at this place, and w4th whom I became 
acquainted soon after my arrival here. Sixty 
years had left their traces upon his face, and his 


snowy beard and silver locks increased his ven- 
erable air. For a man of bis age, be was re- 
markably vigorous ; and as be was somewbat 
above tbe usual beigbt, and well proportioned, 
witb a kind beart tbat beamed tbrougb bis in- 
telligent features, be must bave been, in bis 
younger days, a noble specimen of a man. Even 
at tbe time of wbicb we speak, be was a fine 
looking man, old in years but young in spirit, 
wbole-souled, free from every species of bypoc- 
risy, plain-spoken, full of courage and resolution, 
yet sincere and guileless as a cbild. Tbougb I 
never saw bim bave on a clean sbirt, tbougb bis 
wbole garb was besmeared witb mud and soiled 
witb perspiration ; tbougb bis boary locks bung 
about bis breast and sboulders in unrestrained 
lengtb and unlimited profusion ; and tbougb be 
was nothing now but a poor, penniless old mi- 
ner — yet, convinced tbat he bad those excellent 
qualities within, wbicb constitute the great and 
good man, I should bave felt proud to call bim 

We will let this venerable sexagenarian tell 
bis own story. I indite bis own words, as nearly 
as I recollect them. Said he, during conversa- 
tion one evening, after we had both quit work, 
" Some men would esteem themselves wealthy, 
if they were worth as much money as I was de- 
prived of by bad Jegislation in Congress, awhile 
previous to my departure for this country. Soon 


after the enactment of the tariff law of 1842, one 
of my neighbors and myself invested eighty 
thousand dollars in the manufacture of iron, in 
the State of Pennsylvania. Our business suc- 
ceeded beyond our expectations ; and in order to 
supply the increasing demands for our products, 
we found it necessary to employ additional force 
and capital, build new forges, and otherwise en- 
large the sphere of our operations. Every ex- 
amination of our affairs developed new evidences 
of prosperity, and our hearts glowed with grati- 
tude to those sterling patriots and sagacious 
statesmen, Clay, Webster and others, through 
whose eloquent influence we were then harvest- 
ing the fruits of a protective tariff. But this 
thriving state of things was not of long continu- 
ance. In 1846 the tariff act of '42 was repealed ; 
and that repeal was the death-blow to our man- 
ufacturing interests. The duty on iron was re- 
duced so low that it was impossible for us to com- 
pete with the importations from Europe. We 
became embarrassed, made an assignment, and 
finally, by sacrificing every thing we had in the 
shape of property, extricated ourselves from all 
liabilities. After this stroke of misfortune, hav- 
ing a wife and three daughters, who were partly 
dependent upon me for support, I concluded to 
come to California, believing, from the flatter- 
ing accounts which I had seen published, that 
money was more easily accumulated here than in 


the Atlantic States. It is now almost two years 
since I arrived in San Francisco. Going to the 
northern mines first, I worked there something 
over twelve months ; but finding it a difficult 
matter to pay expenses, I came south, and set- 
tled at this place. I fear I have not bettered my 
condition. During the last seven or eight 
months I have labored faithfully upon this bar, 
but have not been in possession of as much as 
twenty-five dollars clear money at any one time. 
I confess I am utterly disappointed in California. 
It has been grossly, shamefully misrepresented. 
I have tried it to my satisfaction. Now I would 
be glad to return to my home in Pennsylvania, 
but I have no means to convey me. And there 
is my poor family, my beloved wife and daugh- 
ters — what will become of them ? May heaven 
provide for them, for I am unable." 

As the good old man uttered these last words, 
the tears trickled down his cheeks, and he could 
say no more. Had it not been that I disdained 
to moisten California soil with such precious 
drops, I believe my eyes would have rained too ; 
for the clouds began to gather about them, and 
I had to use no little precaution to keep them 
dry. It was certainly no sign of a white-livered 
man, to shed tears in a case of this kind ; on the 
contrary, it was, at least in my opinion, a mark 
of goodness ; and my estimation of the old gen- 
tleman was heightened, on account of the tender 


regaiHi ho manitostod towards his family. IIo 
had hitely roooivod a most soothing and atVoo- 
tionato letter from one of his daughters, urging 
him hy all means to return home on the first 
opportunity, and promising to exert herself to 
the utmost to make him happy. Handing the 
letter to ine, be remarked that I might read it if 
I felt so disposed. A peculiar thrill electrified 
my ^Yhole system as I laid hold of the delicately 
pen-ned missive. I was hut little acquainted 
with that kind of literature, yet there was a 
charm about it, and I devoured its contents 
with avidity. It was a rare souvenir — beau- 
tifully written, well worded, and faultless in 





Among our readers there may be 8ome who 
are contemplating a trip to California, and may 
be hesitating between the two routes commonly 
traveled. Por their Bakes, I have violated the 
chronological order of my adventures, that I 
might introduce a description of the outward 
and return trip, in immediate juxtaposition for 
the greater convenience of comparison. 

From the pier of Wall street, Xew York, on 
Friday, January 31st, seven passengers, myself 
amongst the number, embarked for San Fran- 
cisco,- on board the clipper ship Stag-Hound, 
under command of Capt. Josiah Richardson. 
The wind blowing from the north-east afforded 
us a favorable opportunity for standing out from 
land; of this, however, we did not avail our- 
selves until about 4 o'clock in the afternoon : 
for, although our vessel was towed out early in 
the morning, and every thing seemed to be in 
readiness for our final departure, yet, through 
some unavoidable delay, we were obliged to cast 
anchor ofi" Stat en Island, where it became ne- 
cos.^Hrv for us to remain until the time above 


mentioned. We then weighed anchor, set sail, 
and in a few minutes our noble ship was gliding 
over the blue waves with swan-like grace. 

It was trulv a masrnificent si^ht, as we headed 
off so smoothly and so majestically from the 
shore, and made our way out farther and far- 
ther upon the dark blue deep ; we spent the 
greater part of the evening promenading the 
quarter-deck, and admiring the enchanting scene. 
But our reverie and conversation were not alto- 
gether undisturbed by melancholy thought. We 
had just started upon a long, uncertain and 
monotonous voyage. Old associations had been 
broken up. We had bid adieu to our native 
homes, our nearest relations and dearest friends, 
probably for three or four years — possibly for 
ever. All before us then was an unknown 
world — an untrodden path, and phantom-faces 
of doubt and fear would loom up from the ob- 
scurity of the future. 

The next morning I began to feel symptoms 
of that most intolerable of all sensations, sea- 
sickness. Of this malady I had some little 
experience once before, while on my way from 
Philadelphia to New York via Cape May ; but I 
never entertained the least idea that it was half 
so depressing as I now found it. For three 
weeks and more I could scarcely eat a mouthful. 
It really seemed to me at times that eating was 
the most abominable occupation men could en- 


gage in ; and when I looked upon dishes of 
which I had often freely partaken before coining 
on board the vessel, I cither found it difficult to 
reconcile myself to the opinion that I was not 
dreaming, or came well nigh detesting myself 
for having ever been addicted to so gross a 

The monotony of our daily life was without 
variety for the next four or five days. The 
wind had been somewhat favorable, and we 
were making good progress until the evening of 
the fifth day, when suddenly the wind changed 
and we shortly after found ourselves in the midst 
of as nice a hurricane as ever sunk a ship or 
leveled a forest. The wind howled and shrieked 
in such a manner that I could compare it with 
nothing earthly; the sea, too, had assumed, by 
this time, a most formidable appearance ; the 
rain was falling in perfect torrents — the light- 
ning flashed incessantl}', and such deafening 
thunder-peals mortal man never heard before. 
It appeared as if the elements, for the last five 
days or so, had been nursing their wrath for 
this particular occasion, and were determined 
that we, poor devils of passengers, sliould be 
made thoroughly acquainted with the comforts 
of a crowded ship in a tornado at sea. 

The poor affrighted passengers (myself among 
the rest) despaired of the ship long before the 
severest part of the tempest was felt, and prayers 


and promises were offered up without stint for 
our salvation, by manv that never prayed before 
and I suppose have never done so since. When 
morning dawned it seemed as if the fury of the 
storm increased — sea and sky were apparently 
as one; everything, and everybody appeared 
helpless, hopeless, panic-stricken. Most of our 
canvas had been taken in or closely furled, yet 
the ship dashed along with the speed of a race- 
horse. Things that were not well secured rolled 
about in the greatest disorder and confusion. 
The heavy seas which she had already shipped, 
and the still heavier ones she was then shipping, 
increased, if possible, the consternation inspired 
by the awful scene. In fact, things began to 
wear such a threatening aspect, that a speedy 
change of some sort was looked forward to with 
the greatest anxiety, not only by the passengers, 
but by the captain and crew, Avhen, to complete 
our terrors, topgallant-masts, royals, and main- 
top-mast, Avith their appendages, came down with 
a crash that was heard above the howling of the 
storm. By this time the day had been spent, and 
night considerably advanced, — with fear and 
trembling we retired to our state-rooms, doubt- 
ing whether we should ever be permitted to see 
the light of another day. For myself, I suppose 
I was quite as indifferent about the matter as 
any one else; for, when a person gets to be as 
much under the influence of nausea as I was at 


the time, any change is desirable, even though 
it carry him to the bottom of the deep. The 
night passed, and we found that the storm was 
beginning to abate, so that, in about forty-eight 
hours thereafter, its violence had entirely ceased, 
and fine weather attended us across the equator. 

The loss of our masts, in this severe gale, at 
once threw a damper on our high hopes of a 
quick passage; but, fortunately for us, we had 
extra masts on board ; and, through the inde- 
fatigable exertions and perseverance of our vig- 
ilant captain, we succeeded in getting all the 
wreck cleared away and jury-masts rigged. The 
shattered timbers and torn sails opened an un- 
usually large field of labor for our carpenter and 
sail-maker. We kept on our course, which had 
been very nearly south-east ever since we started, 
until we passed the Cape Verde Islands, about 
four degrees to the west, when we steered due 
south, and crossed the equator between twenty- 
nine and thirty degrees west longitude. 

The next interesting event that happened to 
us occurred ofi* the coast of Brazil, in latitude 
22° 25'— longitude 38° 29', Sunday, March 2d. It 
was about six o'clock in the morning, and I had 
just left my state-room and gone on deck to take 
a bath, when a sailor by my side, pointing over 
the starboard bow, cried out, " Boat ahoy I boat 
ahoy ! with men in it." In an instant, as if by 
electricity, the news was conveyed to every ear 


on board, and, at the same time, the starboard 
rail was lined fore and aft with anxious sailors 
and half-dressed passengers. As we drew near 
them, (they had been rowing towards us all the 
while as hard as they could pull,) they com- 
menced waving their hands and handkerchiefs, 
beckoning to us and calling out in an unintel- 
ligible language, as if imploring us to receive 
them on board. At the time, the sea was run- 
ning moderately high, and we were gliding 
along at the rate of five or six knots per hour, 
so that in a few minutes we had them directly 
astern of us; but we were not so destitute of hu- 
manity as to pass them by and leave them to 
certain death. Our sympathies were (|uickly 
and enthusiastically aroused in their behalf, and 
as soon as our captain could get his ship uuder 
l^roper command, he hove her to and waited for 
them to row along side. Pretty soon they came 
close under the lee of our vessel, and their 
weather-beaten features and nautical garb at 
once gave evidence that they were not unac- 
quainted with the life of sea-faring men. 

A rope was thrown to them and the}^ were all 
able to pull themselves on board by it, except 
one, whom we afterwards ascertained to be their 
captain,— he, poor fellow, was so much exhausted 
that he could not help himself^ and we were 
obliged to hoist him in. Their story was the 
next thing to be learned ; for, as yet, not a word 


they said had heen understood. This difficulty 
was removed, however, as soon as we got our 
men collected; for, among our polyglot assem- 
blage of men, representing nearly forty different 
nations, we quickly found an interpreter in the 
person of an old Swede, whose translation of 
their story was, in substance, as follows : — They 
were Swedes and belonged to the Kussian brig 
Sylphide, which had been to Rio and taken in a 
cargo of eighteen hundred and twenty-five bags 
of coffee, with which they had set sail for Hel- 
singfors, Finland, — when five days out from 
Rio, a severe storm, or rather squall, came upon 
them, and so completely and suddenly wrecked 
their vessel, that they had barely time to escape 
in one of the little boats with their lives — not 
even having an opportunity to procure so much 
as a bottle of water or a mouthful of food. So 
precipitate and unexpected was the calamity 
which thus overtook them, that they had to quit 
their brig without any preparation whatever, 
and abandon their carpenter, who happened to 
be in his berth sick at the time, to a watery 

They had been out three days and nights in 
this condition, with nothing to eat or drink, save 
the legs of their captain's boots, which they said 
they had been chewing to sustain life. Exposed 
as they were to the burning rays of a tropical 
sun, without any thing to eat or drink, it is not 



reasonable to suppose that they woiiki have 
lived more than three davs longer at farthest, if 
we had not picked them up, or if they had not 
been otherwise providentially relieved. We re- 
ceived the captain in our own cabin, and at our 
own table, and entertained him as hospitably 
and agreeably in every way as it was possible 
for us to do. His men went before the mast, 
and proved a very acceptable addition to our 
crew, especially in doubling Cape Horn, for they 
could endure the cold much better than our own 
seamen. That day, in commendation of the act 
we had performed in the morning, our captain, — 
who, by the by, was a very exemplary and de- 
vout scion of an orthodox Yankee house, — read, 
during divine service, the parable of the G-ood 

About three o'clock in the afternoon of the 
same day, a little circumstance came under my 
observation, which, though it may seem quite a 
trivial afiair in the eyes of many, may neverthe- 
less serve to illustrate in some degree the bar- 
barity of man and his utter indiflerence in re- 
gard to the lives of inferior animals. The sub- 
ject of the incident was a small land bird, very 
much resembling our hedge sparrow, 'which was 
discovered resting upon one of the larboard 
main braces. A gust or blast of wind had prob- 
ably driven it out to sea, and it could not find 
its wav back to the shore. It was so weak that 


it could scarcely fly, and looked as if it was al- 
most dead. On seeing it, I ran below and ^ot a 
few crumbs of bread and strewed them along 
over the life-boat nearest to it. But just at that 
moment, the Swedish captain, wlio had now be- 
gun to resuscitate, came up on deck ; and spying 
the distrx3ssed little wanderer, he walked up as 
boldly and deliberately to the rope upon which 
it was sitting, as if it had been some noxious in- 
truder, and shook it violently. Thus frightened, 
the bird flew off some distance from tlie ship, 
but soon returned and alighted in the very same 
place ; again the captain shook the rope as he 
had done at first, and again the bird did just as 
it had done before. This same thing was re- 
peated for the third time, when the wearied 
little creature, apparently disgusted with the 
brutality of the man, who but a few hours be- 
fore was himself in a forlorn and helpless condi- 
tion, dropped down upon the water, and was 
seen no more. 

Keeping along down the South American 
coast, we passed between Patagonia and the 
Falkland Islands ; and on the morning of the 
21st of Marcli were within twenty miles of Staten 
Land. This was the first land we had seen since 
leaving home, and we feasted our eyes upon it, 
until our ship bore us so far distant that it had 
dwindled down to a mere speck. When we 
were near enough to Staten Land, I could see 


with tlie aid of the captain's spj^-glass nothing 
but rugged and sterile mountains, the highest 
peaks of which were covered with snow, and 
presented quite a picturesque appearance. No 
vegetation nor living thing of any kind could he 
discerned. But a young Bostonian, whom we 
afterwards saw in Valparaiso, told us he passed 
so near the shore of some of the land lying at 
the southern extremity of Patagonia, that he 
could see the natives, who, he said, were a gi- 
gantic people, about eight feet high ! He also 
said the}^ ran along on the shore abreast of his 
vessel, whooping and yelling at him like a set 
of ferocious savages. On Sunday following we 
saw Cape Horn, the most notorious of all places 
upon the high seas for rough weather and con- 
trary winds. 

Up to this time we had been congratulating 
ourselves upon the auspicious season in which 
we had happened to reach the Cape, and upon 
the quick run we were going to make around 
it. Delightful weather and favorable winds had 
cheered us since leaving the latitude of the La 
Plata river, and we were in high hopes that we 
had just hit upon the right time to sail safely 
round the dangerous Cape in one or two days, 
instead of being kept there six or eight weeks, 
as is sometimes the case. But we were doomed 
to sad disappointment. Towards night that 
terror of all navigators, a downright Cape Horn 


tempest, assailed us, and for seven successive 
days and nights kept us almost completely sub- 
merged. During the whole of this time, the 
wind, which was so intolerably cold and pierc- 
ing that it seemed to be charged with isicles, 
blew right in our teeth, and brought hail, sleet, 
rain or snow with it every hour. Owing to this 
hard and continued blowing of the wind, the 
size and power of the waves became perfectly ap- 
palling ; indeed they ran so hesivj and so high 
that each one looked like a little ocean of itself, 
and frequently they would strike the ship with 
such tremendous force that she quivered and 
groaned as if she were going to pieces; in fact, I 
often expected to see her shivered into frag- 
ments, and could hardly believe otherwise than 
that we were all destined to become food for the 
fierce monsters of the deep. We succeeded, 
however, in getting fairly around the Cape, 
much to the gratification of all, and especially 
to the relief of our worn-out seamen, who had 
been up working with all their might, day and 
night, for a whole week. 

While in the neighborhood of the Cape, we 
saw great numbers of the albatross, gull, petrel, 
and other birds ; by means of a fish-hook tied to 
the end of a long line, and baited with a piece 
of fat bacon, which we let out some eight or ten 
rods from the stern of the vessel, we caught sev- 
eral of a species which the sailors called the 


Cape Hen. On measuring one of them from the 
tip of its right wing to the tip of its left^ I found 
it to be seven feet across. The albatross is about 
twice as large as the Cape Hen. Here, too, 
while in this latitude, we had our fairest views 
of the great Southern Cross and the Magellan 
Clouds, constellations of as much notoriety in 
the southern hemisphere, as rhe Pleiades and 
Belt of Orion are in the northern. 

It seems that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans 
are ever at war with each other off Cape Horn, 
where their waters are continually coming into 
mad collision, as if no friendship existed between 
them. But we will now bid adieu to this aquatic 
battle field, this bleak, dreary region of storms 
and hurricanes, and look forward to a more con- 
genial clime. 

Finding our water was now beginning to give 
out, and that we should have to procure a fresh 
supply before we could reach San Francisco, we 
bent our course towards Valparaiso, upon the 
coast of Chili, south of the city and harbor to 
which we were then bound ; and as we passed 
along up the shore, we had a most magnificent 
view, not only of its own long range of barren 
hills, but also of the lofty and towering heights 
of the Andes at the distance of one hundred and 
forty-five miles in the interior. To add to the 
grandeur of this spectacle on land, another now 
presented itself on the ocean around us, in the 


form of great whales — the first we had .seen. 
We saw many of these huge creatures that day 
and the next ; one of them came within two or 
three rods of the stern of the ship, and spouted 
the water with a noise something like that of a 
high pressure Mississippi steamboat. 

We had scarcely dropped our anchor in the 
harbor of Valparaiso before we were surrounded 
with little boats filled with natives and foreign- 
erSj who had come out, as they said, to talk with 
us and to see our ship. From these men we 
learned that four days previously a severe eartli- 
quake had been felt, and that all the houses in 
the city had been more or less injured — a part of 
the city completely destroyed, and some few per- 
sons killed. It was also reported by some of 
them, that it had laid a great portion of San- 
tiago, the capital, in ruins ; but, as yet, no defi- 
nite news had been received from any of the in- 
land cities or towns ; and it was not positively 
ascertained what amount of damage had been 
sustained in any place, save only here. Late 
that evening, about half an hour before sun- 
down, we passengers made our entrance into the 
city ; but it was then too late in the day to see 
or learn any thing of interest, so we returned 
directly to our own quarters aboard the ship, 
and waited in suspense for the coming morn. 

Immediately after an early breakfast, Wednes- 
day morning, we put off in a small boat for the 


shore, and were not a little surprised on arriv- 
ing there to find every thing so new and so dif- 
ferent from what we had supposed. Crowds of 
the natives, dressed in their peculiar costume, 
were collected upon the wharves, and were 
making a great huhhub with their clamorous 
tongues and noisy actions. They appeared to 
be an inoffensive, simple-hearted sort of people ; 
but they were inexcusably ignorant, and abom- 
inably filthy. 

Scarcely had we been in the city half an hour 
that morning, when I stepped into a barber- 
shop to have the superfluous hair removed from 
my head and face. While in the very act of 
shaving me, the barber very suddenly sprang 
aghast from me towards the door ; and the first 
thing I knew, the whole earth, houses and every 
thing around me, were quivering in the most 
terrific manner ; but, fortunately for the timid, 
helpless creatures, the vacillation continued but 
a few seconds, and no very serious consequences 
resulted from it. Just at the moment the rum- 
bling and quaking commenced, I could not for 
my life think wliat it was ; but the barber 
seemed to understand it immediately, for he had 
been the unwilling spectator of a much more de- 
structive earthquake only five days before ; and 
consequently, he knew well enough what the 
matter was. On retiring from the shop, just 
as I entered the street, a similar shock was ex- 


perienced, and instantaneously the whole popu- 
lation rushed headlong out of their houses into 
the thoroughfares, apparently in the greatest 
distress, and frightened half out of their wits. 
I observed several of the women particularly, 
who, upon running into the streets, immediately 
placed themselves in an attitude of prayer, by 
falling upon their knees, crossing their hands 
upon their breasts, and casting their eyes to- 
wards heaven. There was something really 
beautiful and touching in the unfeigned humil- 
ity with which these awe-struck mortals re- 
signed themselves to the will of Him who alone 
is able to convulse worlds, or command tran- 
quillity throughout the universe. 

Both of these tremors were slight, and nei- 
ther did much mischief But the one that oc- 
curred four days previous to our arrival came 
very near laying the whole city in ruins. The 
custom house, churches, stores, and nearly all 
the principal buildings were cracked so badly 
that many of them were considered dangerous. 
The people were engaged in pulling down some 
entirely, and repairing others as best they could. 
The ground was terribly rent in many places ; 
and while on a stroll beyond the limits of the 
city, I saw one crevasse which was about five 
inches in width, and so long and so deej) that I 
could find neither end nur bottom to it. We re- 
mained in Valparaiso till the afternoon of Sat- 


urday, but did uot feel any other shock. For 
myself, I was satistied with what I saw theu, 
aud having hoen since shaken by them two or 
three times during my sojourn in Calitornia, I 
hope I shall never feel another. 

As for the city itself, we saw nothing that was 
really beaut it ul about it. The majority of the 
residences were built o1l mud and straw, and 
covered with tiles ; and were, I think, upon the 
whole, rather inferior to the negro huts upon a 
southern plantation. The immense sterile hills 
all round, about, aud through the city, pre- 
sented quite a dreary and desolate appearance, 
and prevented us from seeing more than half the 
number of its buildings at the same time. One 
of the merchants, a Xew Orleans man, informed 
me that the population was estimated at from 
60,000 to 05.000. Speaking of this merchant re- 
minds me of a remarkable instance of stupidity 
which came under my observation one morning 
while visiting his store. He had just received 
fifty barrels of pork, which the drayman had left 
before his door, and which he wished to have 
stowed in his cellar. His regular porter being 
sick, he hired two doltish countrymen to per- 
form the job. It was stipulated that they should 
receive a certain sum of money for removing the 
pork from the street into the cellar ; and the 
bargain being fairly understood on both sides, 
they began to fulfil their part of the contract. 


by lifliufj the barrels instead of roUirif^ tliern. 
We allowed them to pursue this toilsome system 
of labor until they had finished about one fifth 
of their task, when we interposed and explained 
to them the easier method of accomplisliing it. 
It is a fact, accordinj^ to their own confession, 
that tliey had not sense enough to avail them- 
selves of the rotundity of the barrels. 

Valparaiso surpasses San Francisco in the ab- 
ruptness of its surface and the barrenness of its 
soil. There is no plant within sight of the 
town, except here and there in the little vales 
and hollows. The inhabitants have to bring all 
their supplies from beyond the coast range, a 
distance of nine or ten miles ; and as the hills 
are so large and so steep that they cannot be trav- 
ersed with vehicles, every thing must be trans- 
ported upon the backs of mules. The interior 
of Chili is represented to be a very beautiful and 
productive country; and, to use the language 
of her historian, " all the fruits of the earth 
grow there in the greatest abundance." To- 
wards noon that day, we chartered some donkeys 
and rode out about two miles, to a garden called 
the Vale of Paradise, in the upper part of the 
city. This was one of the most charming spots 
I ever beheld, and, with the exception of two or 
three other little places like it, the only level 
and fertile piece of ground we saw during the 
whole time we were there. Here, on the 9th of 


April, we got apples, pears, peaches, pomegran- 
ates, pine apples, quinces, oranges, lemons, figs, 
bananas, mangoes and melons, to our hearts' 

On Thursday, having wandered from my com- 
rades, I began to perambulate the streets alone, 
determined to see and learn as much of the city 
as practicable. At last I found I had wandered 
very nearly to its northern outskirts, when I 
came to a little winding path, which I fol- 
lowed up till it led me to the opened gate of a 
beautiful, palisaded inclosure. Upon looking in 
I observed a long, clean, level walk in the midst 
of the most delectable garden I ever saw. All 
the way overhead, from one end of the walk to 
the other, there were large, luscious clusters of 
grapes, hanging down in the richest profusion ; 
while on either side there seemed to be an ac- 
tual rivalry in growth and luxuriance between 
the various fruits and vegetables. About half 
way up the walk, in a well shaded place, two 
middle-aged men, dressed in long robes, and 
with books in their hands, were sitting on a 
bench, reading. Still I continued to stand at the 
gate, admiring the fascinating scenery before 
me, being seen by nobody, and seeing no one 
myself, except the two gownsmen, whose atten- 
tion seemed to be wholly absorbed by their books. 
To go in I feared would not only be an inter- 
ruption to the quietude and serenity which per- 


vadecl those elysian grounds, "but also an intru- 
sion upon the privacy of gentlemen whom I 
had no right to disturb. However, hoping to 
frame a reasonable excuse by offering to pur- 
chase some fruit, I stepped in, and slowly ap- 
proaching the literary group, inquired, "Do 
you speak English ?" tScarcely had the words 
fallen from my tongue, when the one who sat 
farthest from me arose, and having replied in 
the affirmative, extended his hand towards me in 
a very cordial manner, and then asked me a long 
question in Latin, not a word of which I under- 
stood except the termination, which was " St. 
Patrick ?" Manifesting by my looks, as well as 
I could, my ignorance of his ecclesiastical salu- 
tation, interrogation, or whatever it was, he im- 
mediately dropped his classical lore, and con- 
versed with me freely in English — both of lis, in 
the meantime^ promenading up and down the 
lovely arbor. From him I learned that the ad- 
joining buildings were occupied as a Roman 
Catholic college, and that this garden was ex- 
clusively for the use and benefit of the priests, 
of whom he was one, as well as a professor in the 
institution. He informed me that it was the 
largest and most popular college in Cliili, and 
that they had students from nearly all the re- 
publics and provinces of the continent. He him- 
self was a native of Belgium, but had emigrated 
to South America as a missionary some fifteen 


years prior to the time I saw liim. The book 
he then hekl in his hand was a Spanish history 
of the United States; and as he asked me a great 
many questions concerning our country, I in- 
ferred that he felt a good deal of interest in it. 
Upon the whole, he appeared to be a very kind- 
hearted and well-disposed man. Just before 
leaving, he presented me with a mammoth bunch 
of delicious grapes, and at parting, gave my 
hand a courteous and sincere shake. 

At this place we parted with the wrecked crew 
we had picked up five weeks before, leaving 
them in the hands of the Kussian consul. But 
before bidding a final adieu to the captain, we 
purchased a gold ring and inclosed it in a sym- 
pathizing epistle to his wife, condoling with her 
in her husband's misfortunes. When we com- 
mitted the letter and little keepsake to his 
charge, he seemed to be very much aftected, and 
acknowledged himself under a thousand obliga- 
tions to us. 

Little occurred on our passage from Valparaiso 
to San Francisco worthy of note, except the my- 
riads of fish of various kinds which we saw be- 
tween the tropics, the sublime sunrises and 
sunsets, the enchanting moonlight evenings, 
and the phosphorescent phenomena of the ocean 
at night. The Pacific far surpasses the Atlan- 
tic in beauty and diversity of ocean scenery. 
Its gentle gales and placid waves inexpressibly 


charm the heart of the sailor. Almost every 
species of fish, from the tiny pilchard to the 
monstrous whale may he found in its waters ; 
while countless numhers of aquatic hirds, from 
the diminutive petrel to the ponderous albatross, 
swim lazily upon its bosom. 

Six days after leaving Valparaiso we passed 
within a short distance of the St. Felix Islands, 
which rise alone out of the world of water. We 
could see nothing that had life in it about them, 
nor any thing that was inviting or pleasing to 
the eye. On the morning of the 5th May, we 
again crossed the equator, in longitude 114°. 

This voyage afforded us an excellent oppor- 
tunity for reading ; but it may well be supposed 
that, in traveling seventeen thousand miles upon 
the water, we were sometimes overcome with 
ennui. As a refuge from this monotony of '• life 
on the ocean wave," we betook ourselves to 
games of euchre, whist, chess, backgammon and 
solitaire. Our ship being very large, perfectly 
new, beautifully and comfortably finished, and 
furnished with the very best accommodations, 
eatables and drinkables, we enjoyed ourselves 
remarkably well, except while sea-sick, or when 
dashed and beaten about by ill-bred storms and 
hurricanes. As there were only six passengers 
besides myself, we had abundance of room ; and 
being together so long, and secluded from all 
other society, we became as sociable and familiar 


as if Tve had all been meml^eis of the same house- 
hold. A very amiable and estimable young lady, 
the sister of a passenger, and the only female on 
board, contributed in an eminent degree to the 
pleasure of the trip. 

We arrived in San Francisco on the 25th of 
May, having made the passage in one hundred 
and thirteen days from Xew York. This was a 
very quick run, considering the misfortunes we 
met with off the Bermudas. If we had not been 
dismasted, we would probably have reached our 
destination twelve or fifteen days earlier. The 
Flying Cloud, clipper-modeled, and built almost 
exactly like the Stag Hound, ran from !N'ew York 
to San Francisco in eighty-nine days, which is 
the shortest voyage that has yet been made by a 
sailing vessel between the two ports. Many of 
the old-fashioned ships crawl along for seven or 
eight months ; and I know one blunt, tub-like 
carac which consumed three hundred and seventy 
days in the passage. 




About six hundred homeward-bound passen- 
gers, myself included, left San Francisco on the 
16th of March, in the splendid steamship Cortes, 
under command of Captain Cropper. It being 
our intention to reach the Caribbean sea by the 
Nicaragua route, we bent our course towards San 
Juan del Sur. Wind and wave both favored our 
movements, and we made rapid progress. Stray 
thoughts occupied my mind as my eyes rested 
for the last time upon the barren hills of Cali- 
fornia. There I had witnessed many strange 
sights and incidents. Should I ever see them 
again ? Was it probable that I would stop to 
renew my acquaintance with them while on my 
way to Japan and China in 1875, by the great 
Atlantic and Pacific railway ? My mind, how- 
ever, was occupied but a little while in the con- 
sideration of these matters. There was before 
me a country which engendered a brighter train 
of thoughts than that which I was leaving be- 
hind. I began to think of greeting the good 
old folks at home; of joining long-parted hands, 
and of roaming over the glades and glens which 
first supported my tottering steps, 


Our gallant ship continued to glide bravely 
on towards the place of her destination. Neither 
accident nor rough weather happened to us, and 
we should have enjoyed ourselves finely if there 
had not been so many persons on board. The 
crowd was too large for a pleasure party at sea. 
There were too many mouths to feed, too many 
berths to adjust, and too many complaints to be 
heard. Somebody was always in the way of 
somebody else. We were too much pent up. 
There was an abundance of room all around us, 
above and below us ; but it was not adapted to 
our purposes. The Cortez was our only foot- 
hold ; and it was necessary that we should cling 
to her as the only means of reaching terra firma. 

But I imagine those of us who had state-rooms 
on the cabin-deck would not liave felt any dis- 
position to murmur, if we had known how much 
better we fared than the other passengers. Only 
about one hundred and fifty enjoyed this advan- 
tage ; all the others were huddled together in 
the steerage. Is it reasonable to suppose that 
any considerable number of these four hundred 
and fifty persons would have engaged such un- 
comfortable and unwholesome passage, if they 
could have done better ? No. They could scarcely 
have been hired to pass through the torrid zone 
in tlie steerage, if they had possessed money 
enough to pay for a cabin-passage. It is a 
well-known fact that the steamers bring a much 


larger number of steerage passengers from Cali- 
fornia than they take there. The majority of 
those that go to California take passage in the 
cabin ; but more than two-thirds of those who 
return occupy the steerage. As a matter of 
course, there was no communication between the 
cabin and steerage passengers; at least those in 
the steerage were not allowed to come abaft the 
ship ; bat I do not tliink our privileges were cir- 
cumscribed in this respect, for I went forward of 
the bulkhead several times, as did many others 
who belonged in the cabin, and the officers said 
nothing to us. 

There was quite a medley of characters in the 
cabin. Bishop Soule, of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, South, may be placed at the head. He 
is a stout, line-looking old gentleman, about 
seventy years of age ; and I sincerely believe he 
was the best man aboard the vessel. He had 
been stirring up the sinners in California for 
some time, and was now returning to his home 
in Georgia. Next came the Rev. Dr. Boring and 
three or four other clergymen, one of whom had 
formerly been a missionary in Brazil. The Sec- 
retary of Utah Territory, a downright jolly fel- 
low, dressed in a suit of buckskin, and who, 
while on the Isthmus, manifested a most ardent 
passion for parrots, was also on board. Besides 
these, there were eight colonels, seven majors, 
five captains, three professors, six doctors, ten 


quacks, five lawyers, eight pettifoggers, a score 
of blacklegs, six or eight ladies, a dozen other 
adult females, and fifteen or twenty children. 
We also had the company of a Polish patriot, 
who was on his way to the East to join the 
Turkish army. 

On the seventh or eighth day after our depart- 
ure from San Francisco, one of the passengers, 
while taking spy-glass observations, espied a 
motionless object at a great distance on the wa- 
ter — the sea at the time being perfectly calm 
and smooth. The spy-glass passed rapidly from 
hand to hand, and was kept almost constantly 
leveled towards the object ; but nobody could 
determine what it was. One man thought it a 
ship in distress ; another inclined to the opinion 
that it was abandoned altogether ; while a third 
sighingly expressed his conviction that it was 
the decaying remnant of a melancholy wreck. 
The captain, more dispassionate, experienced^ 
and capable of forming a correct judgment, now 
surveyed it carefully ; but it was so far off upon 
the larboard quarter, that he acknowledged 
himself unable to give any reliable information 
concerning it. What then was to be done? 
Should we stifle our curiosity and continue on 
our course, or should we change and go to the 
mysterious object ? Some favored one proposi- 
tion, and some the other. Considerable betting 
had been going on as to the number of days we 


would be occupied in making the passage, and 
one half of those who had thus wagered their 
money were opposed to losing the time which it 
would require to make the examination. But 
the motion to go being seconded and sanctioned 
by a large majority of the passengers, the cap- 
tain immediately turned the prow of the steamer. 

After sailing awhile on this new track, we 
discovered a large flock of longipennate birds 
flying around the wreck to which we were then 
bound. This was an ominous sign. What were 
these sea buzzards doing about a disabled ves- 
sel, if they were not feeding on the dead bodies of 
seamen? But the rapid movement of the Cortez 
assured us that our curiosity should soon be al- 
layed. With the aid of the spy-glass we could 
now view the object distinctly ; and on approach- 
ing still nearer, we found it was nothing but an old 
empty scow ! and that it was frequented by the 
fowls of the sea merely because it afforded them 
a place to rest and to roost. What a sore disap- 
pointment it was, not to find the carcasses of a 
hundred starved sailors ! A day or two after 
this, one of the steerage passengers died, an old 
sail was wrapped around him, two pieces of pig- 
iron were fastened to his feet, and he was cast 

Early in the morning of the thirteenth day of 
our pilgrimage upon the water, we arrived at 
San Juan del Sur, a miserable, good-for-nothing 


little town, situated on the western coast of Nic- 
aragua, near the eleventh parallel of north lati- 
tude. The harhor was as mean and ugly as the 
town, being very small, shallow and inconveni- 
ent. There were no piers nor wharves, and we 
had to cast anchor about one hundred and fifty 
yards from the shore. Large yawls were then 
prepared for us, and we were conveyed as near 
terra firma as the depth of the harbor would al- 
low. But when the yawls struck bottom, I think 
we were still from twenty-five to thirty yards 
from the water's edge ; and there were no means 
or facilities of reaching the shore, except by 
wading, or by straddling the shoulders of the half- 
breed, quarter-dressed natives, scores of whom, 
in the hope of making a few shillings, were 
standing waist-deep in the water all around us, 
and begging us to take seats on their backs, a 
request with which, after some deliberation, we 

During this novel process of debarkation, I 
witnessed some most ludicrous scenes. The Nic- 
araguans, generally speaking, are much more 
feeble, dwarfed, and efteminate than the people 
of the United States. On an average, I should 
think that one able-bodied Kentuckian would be 
equal to four or five of these hybrid denizens of 
the torrid zone. It will not, therefore, surprise 
the reader when I tell him that the small man, 
while carrying the large one through the water. 


being top-lioavy, would sometimes drop his bur- 
den ! Nor was this all ; the ladies were yet be- 
hind, and they had to be brought ashore in the 
same manner I 

Among our passengers were two or three ole- 
aginous men, of Falstaff proportions ; one of 
whom engaged a couple of the stoutest carriers 
around the yawl to convey him to the shore. 
Fixing himself upon their shoulders as well as 
he could, he signified to them that he was ready, 
and they made for land ; but before they had 
proceeded half a dozen steps, he weighed them 
down, and all three fell flat on their backs in the 
water ! This little mishap created a great deal 
of merriment; and several others who had just 
mounted and started, unable to restrain their 
laughter, leaned back too far to give it vent, and 
down they tumbled into the water likewise ! It 
was necessary for the rider, or topmost man, to 
keep himself in a quiet, perpendicular position ; 
for if he leaned backward, or forward, or side- 
way, he was sure to throw the carrier off his 
equilibrium, in which case both of them would 
fall down together. 

The ladies had now arrived from the Cortez, 
and were ready to disembark. There was but 
one way for them to get ashore, and that has 
already been explained. They, too, were com- 
pelled to straddle the shoulders of the natives ; 
and when fairly mounted, give the signal of 


command, and ride ahead boldly, like equestrian 
amazons in a circus. It may here be remarked 
that these men were nearly naked, there being 
no apparel upon them except a kind of bandage 
or wrapper around their loins. The manner of 
mounting the carrier, whose head was almost on 
a level with the rim of the yawl, was to place 
the right limb over his right shoulder, and the 
left over his left ; and when thus conveyed to 
the shore, it was a very easy matter to part the 
limbs from his shoulders, and slide down his 
back. These, then, were the means and facilities 
which were afforded for the disembarkation of 
the ladies ; and I have thus dwelt upon the sub- 
ject for the purpose of informing my fair readers, 
if I have any, what they may expect upon their 
arrival at San Juan del Sur. 

All the passengers and baggage were now 
landed, and after a deal of vexation in securing 
checks and transit tickets, we set forward across 
the country in the direction of Virgin Bay, a 
shabby village, situated about fifteen miles dis- 
tant, on Lake Nicaragua. We traveled this part 
of the way on donkeys. The roads were in prett}^ 
fair condition, and a few of the ladies, being well 
skilled in horsemanship, rode sideways, but the 
majority of them having but little knowledge of 
equestrian exercises, rode like men. This was my 
first entrance into the dismal glories of a tropical 
forest. The trees pressed against each other for 


room, and were clothed with the heaviest and 
most luxuriant foliage I ever beheld, presenting 
every tint and shade of green. Coppice and 
parasites filled up the interstices between them. 
Myriads of gay-plumaged birds warbled upon 
their branches. Ten thousand times ten thou- 
sand insects chirped beneath their limbs. Nim- 
ble monkeys ran up their trunks, and venomous 
reptiles slept in their shadows. 

To give an idea of the weather, I will simply 
say that, if I intended to become a citizen of 
Nicaragua, I should advocate the immediate con- 
struction of three public works, namely : a gov- 
ernment bellows, a state fan, and a great national 
umbrella ! With the aid of these cooling ma- 
chines, I should think a person might manage to 
keep passably comfortable; but without them, 
the heat is almost intolerable. In our own coun- 
try, the people are apt to complain of the hot 
days which dawn upon them in July and August, 
but the caloric of the United States bears no more 
comparison to that of Nicaragua than a frosty 
morning in Carolina to a perpetual winter in 

We rode on, however, in spite of the fiery heat 
of the sun, and arrived at Virgin Bay in good 
season for dinner. There were eight or ten dirty 
little taverns in this despicable little town, and 
as it was uncertain how long we should have to 
wait for our baggage, which was still behind, 


and which was not expected before night, we 
placed ourselves in charge of the landlords, who 
were highly pleased to receive such a multitude 
of guests. About four o'clock in the afternoon, 
I went down to the lake to bathe, having been pre- 
viously assured that the alligators did not fre- 
quent that side of the bay, except during the night. 

The scenery here was grand beyond description. 
Lake Nicaragua itself may be justly termed an 
inland sea. It is more than one hundred miles 
long, and sixty miles in width. Mount Ometepe, 
a dormant volcano, and by far the most beautiful 
elevation I ever saw, rises up out of the midst of 
this lake, in the form of a sugar-loaf, to the height 
of seven thousand feet. At a rough guess, I 
should say it was about fifty miles in circumfer- 
ence at the base, or rather at the surface of the 

A little before sunset, I returned to my hotel, 
and took supper. I had, however, but little ap- 
petite for culinary preparations, for 1 had fed 
myself on such a quantity of mangoes, oranges, 
bananas, and other tropical fruits, that I was 
quite surfeited. Forty or fifty hammocks were 
suspended in the loft of the hotel, and these were 
more attractive than any other part of the enter- 

We sat up until nearly midnight, waiting for 
our baggage, but it did not come ; and we were 
then informed that it would not arrive before 


The sun arose and found us still sep- 
arated from our effects. Noon came and brought 
the baggage with it. Thus you see we had suf- 
fered an unnecessary delay of twenty-four hours 
at Virgin Bay. The steamer Ometepe was now 
ready to receive us, and as we were all anxious 
to reach home, we lost no time in going aboard. 
From this place we sailed in a south-easterly 
direction until breakfast hour next morning, 
when we arrived at Fort San Carlos, where we 
entered the San Juan river, which conveys the 
waters of Lake Nicaragua into the Caribbean 
Sea. There was nothing to be seen at San Car- 
los, except the dilapidated fort_, and it was not 
worth looking at. Here we had to leave the 
Ometepe, and embark on a smaller boat, the river 
being too shallow to float a vessel of deep draught. 
Pursuing the current of the San Juan, we 
passed the unworthy little village of Castillo, 
and again changed boats, leaving one of sorry 
dimensions behind, and taking passage in a 
meaner one of less size, and now came the pecu- 
liar annoyance of the route. Owing to the shoals 
and sand banks in the river, we had to change 
ourselves and our baggage several times; and 
every change we made was from bad to worse. 
Those of us who had taken passage in the cabin, 
though we had paid more than double the price 
of steerage tickets, received no extra accommo- 
dation whatever. We were reduced to a level 


with the steerage passengers at San Juan del 
Sur, and no manner of distinction was made be- 
tween us until we reached the opposite coast. 
For three days and nights we were all crowded 
together in utter disorder and confusion ; men, 
women and children, white people and negroes, 
decent men and blackguards — all fared alike. 
The presence of the ladies did not seem to exer- 
cise any restraint upon the tongues of the vulgar. 
I am sure I had never before been in the com- 
pany of a set of human beings who were capable 
of giving utterance to such an incessant volley 
of scurrilous and obscene language as I heard 
while crossing the Isthmus. 

There was not a mouthful of victuals prepared 
for us on board of these miserable, rickety little 
steamers ; nor was there any place to sleep, ex- 
cept on deck, among puddles of tobacco juice. 
Occasionally we had an opportunity of buying 
fruits and refreshments on the way ; and this 
was the only method we had of procuring any 
thing to eat. I do not think I slept two hours 
out of the seventy-two which we occupied in 
passing the two oceans. Indeed, the Transit 
Company treated us very shabbily. We had 
paid them their price, and they had promised us 
better things. Sometimes, to save the steamer 
from running aground, we had to debark, and 
walk on the bank of the river. On one occasion 
we were compelled to travel more than two miles 


in this manner, before we could find water 
deep enough to carry us aboard the boat. As 
we neared the mouth of the river, we met and 
overtook a great many adult natives, who were 
in the same costume in which nature had 
launched them into the world. They did not 
seem to be conscious of any impropriety in thus 
exposing their persons. 

Nicaragua can never fulfil its destiny until it 
introduces negro slavery. Nothing but slave la- 
bor can ever subdue its forests or cultivate its 
untimbered lands. White men may live upon 
its soil with an umbrella in one hand and a fan 
in the other ; but they can never unfold or de- 
velop its resources. May we not safely conclude 
that negro slavery will be introduced into this 
country before the lapse of many years ? We 
think so. The tendency of events fully warrants 
this inference. 

The time may come when negro slavery will 
no longer be profitable in the United States ; 
and it is also possible that the descendants 
of Ham may finally work their way beyond 
the present limits of our country. But if these 
fated people ever do make their exodus from 
the hands of their present owners, they will 
find themselves journeying and toiling under 
the control of new masters, in the fertile wilder- 
nesses and savannas nearer the equator. Lou- 
isiana and Texas may, at some future time — 


far in the future — find it to their interest to 
adopt the white slavery system of the North ; 
but if negro slavery ever ceases to exist in the 
United States, Mexico, Central America, and the 
countries still further South, will have to become 
its outlets and receptacles. 

It would be no easy task to find a more feeble 
and ineffective population than that which now 
idles away a miserable existence in Nicaragua. 
Nature is too bountiful to the inhabitants. It 
supplies them with every necessary of life, and 
consequently there is no incentive to exertion or 
emulation. Countless fruits and nuts grow and 
ripen spontaneously, and they have nothing to 
do but to eat them. We did not pass a single 
patch of ground under cultivation ; nor did I see 
any improvement, except the despicable little 
huts and shanties in which the people lived. 

On the morning of the first day of April, we 
arrived at San Juan del Norte, alias Grey town, 
which has recently handed its name down to his- 
tory, in connection with that of commander Rol- 
lins, by whom, in compliance with instructions 
from our government, it was bombarded a few 
months ago. We did not go on shore, but I saw 
enough of the place to convince me that it was 
never worth half the paper which has been 
spoiled by diplomatic notes concerning it. The 
Americans call it Greytown, but the original 
Spanish name is San Juan del Norte^ which, 


when Anglicized, means Saint John of the North. 
As we have had a good deal to say respecting 
San Juan del Sur, it may not he amiss to state 
that the English of it is Saint John of the South. 
Just before we left the mouth of the river, we 
saw eight or ten full-grown alligators, basking 
on an islet, thirty or forty yards from us. They 
were all lying near each other, and did not seem 
to be frightened at our appearance. I was well 
pleased to have such a fair view of these amiable 
lizards, but regretted my inability to secure one 
for Barnum ! About three hundred of our pas- 
sengers waved us an adieu at Greytown, and 
took passage in the steamer Daniel Webster for 
New Orleans. The rest immediately set sail for 
New York, in the steamer Star of the West. 

We now found ourselves happily situated 
where we had good order, good accommodations, 
and good treatment — three good things which 
many of us had not been accustomed to for three 
long years. An air of propriety and fitness per- 
vaded the Star of the West fore and aft ; and we 
felt as if we were emerging from a vile and de- 
based community, and entering upon the thresh- 
old of refined society. No incident worthy of 
note occurred daring this part of our voyage. 
"We were in hopes the captain would stop at 
Kingston, Havana, or some other West India 
port ; but he had no occasion to do so. Passing 
on between Cuba and Yucatan, we rounded the 


Florida Reefs, and then followed the Griilf stream 
until we reached the latitude of Cape Hatteras, 
when we bore nearer the land, and ran into 
the harbor of New York on Sunday, April 9th, 
having had a passage of twenty-four days from 
San Francisco. 




More than satisfied with the experience I had 
acquired in mining operations in California, I 
found much difficulty in deciding upon my fu- 
ture course. At one time I made up my mind 
to try what the fickle jade fortune would do for 
me in Australia, and even went so far as to en- 
gage a passage on hoard of a ship that would 
sail for Sydney within a week. An acquaintance 
and friend, to whom I imparted my intentions, 
earnestly persuaded me to abandon my projected 
voyage, and urged me to accompany him to Co- 
lumbia and take an interest in a very promising 
mining adventure. My friend said " he felt 
quite sure that we could make an ounce ($16) a 
day each with the utmost ease, provided we were 
favored with sufficient rain. And as the rainy 
season was close at hand, he was fully satisfied 
that we should have as plentiful a supply of wa- 
ter as our mining operations would require." I 
had heard of these diggings frequently, and that 
gold was found there in great abundance, but 
as no stream watered these surface mines, they 
could only be worked during the rainy season. 


As my friend's story was corroborated by my 
own knowledge of these things, I agreed without 
much hesitation to abandon my voyage to Aus- 
tralia, and join him in this new mining ex- 
pedition — mentally resolving, however, that it 
should be the last of my efforts to become sud- 
denly rich by delving for gold in the mines of 

We left San Francisco in the latter part of the 
month of October, ran up the river San Joa- 
quin to Stockton in a stern-wheel steamboat, so 
crowded with passengers that berths were en- 
tirely out of the question, and so we were doomed 
to get through the night as best we could. And 
such a night ! It is my candid belief that for 
some unknown reason this particular night lasted 
as long as thirteen others combined together, 
and that during its continuance, I visited the in- 
fernal regions, upon the pressing invitation of a 
legion of fiends, all wearing Chinamen's hats 
and long tails ; moreover, I solemnly assert that 
almost every winged insect and other creeping 
thing within a circuit of fifty leagues paid their 
respects to us on board that miserable little steam- 
boat. I have a faint recollection of invoking the 
aid of all the saints in the calendar for relief, but 
they would not hear me, and so I e'en concluded 
to imitate great Caesar's example at the base of 
Pompey's statue, — wrap my head in my mantle, 
and thus resign myself to inexorable fate. As. 


to my friend, I had lost sight of him almost as 
soon as we entered the boat, and it was no small 
gratification to think that remorse had caused 
him to commit suicide, or some such thing. I 
trusted he had leaped overboard from sheer com- 
punction of conscience for having deluded me 
into this scrape, and hoped by drowning himself 
to atone ia some measure for his atrocious con- 
duct. Poor fellow ! I forgave him, and mentally 
resolved to get up something pathetic in the 
shape of an obituary notice, as thus : Departed 
this life, on the evening of the 25th of October, 
1853, by water, one Shad Back, (real name sup- 
posed to be Shadrach Bachus,) aged 34, or there- 
away. The immediate cause of his death was 
remorse of conscience for having decoyed an un- 
suspecting and virtuous youth on board of a poor 
miserable craft crowded with passengers, without 
berths, without seats, and swarming with ver- 
min of every description, including Chinamen. 
It is supposed that, in a moment of despair, pro- 
duced by witnessing the distress of his victim, 
he jumped into the river and was drowned. His 
numerous friends cannot but bewail his untimely 
end, although some are of the opinion that it 
'^ sarved him right." Bequiescat in pace. 

I thought I would add to this a verse or so 
from some suitable ditty, but could hit upon 
nothing that would reach the case better than a 
portion of Gray's Elegy, beginning : " Here rests 


his head upon this lap of earth," ttc. Now as I 

was not fully convinced that ^' his head did rest 
upon this lap of earth," I deemed it best to change 
the text sliirhtlv to meet the melancholy occa- 
sion, and make it read thus: 

There rests beneath the briny wave, 
A youth to linen and to soap unknown ; 

Fair science frowned, Init failed to save 
This blessed youth, who then went down. 

I confess my inability to state distinctly what 
is meant by the last line ; it seemed to rhyme 
with " unknown," and as I never had been guilty 
of an attempt of this kind before, I thought it 
would do very well as a first effort in the line of 
poetry. I may as well here explain also, that as 
I intended to have the whole thing painted upon 
a good sized shingle, and that nailed upon some 
tree near the sea shore, I thought it would be a 
good idea to have the hand with an extended 
finger painted conspicuously on the shingle, to 
serve as a pointer towards the ocean ; this would 
sufficiently explain the meaning of ^^ there rests^' 
and '■'■hrinij wave." 

Notwithstanding the bodily torments I under- 
went during that livelong night, with my head 
wrapped in a mantle and all the rest of my per- 
son fairly given over to the tender mercies of 
thousands of mosquitos, gnats, sand-flies, ants, 
ticks, fleas and bed-bugs, I really experienced a 
strong sensation of relief upon reflecting how 


verj' handsomely I had disi30sed of my friend's 
earthly affairs. At the same time I thought it 
quite possible that my good intentions towards 
his memory, coupled with the fact of my sufiPer- 
ings, and the pains and penalties I had under- 
gone and was still enduring, would in a measure 
serve as a sort of atonement for my own sins of 
omission and commission, beginning far back, at 
a very early period of my life. 

Morning dawned at last, and I was in the very 
act of gathering the remainder of my person in- 
to an upright position, when I heard a voice, 
proceeding from beneath an immense heap of 
Chinamen, Irishmen, and niggers, calling me by 
name, and entreating my assistance to get him 
upon his legs. I seemed to know the voice very 
well, but could not recall to mind the owner. 
Deeming it, however, the duty of a good Chris- 
tian to help a distressed fellow-creature, I made 
my way through the crowd to the spot whence 
the voice issued, and there, to my intense grief 
and astonishment, I beheld my friend Shad upon 
his back, actively engaged in repelling, with 
hands and feet, the united assaults of a strong 
force, composed of three Irishmen and four Chi- 
nese fellows. I became convinced, the moment 
I saw his position, that if he escaped hanging 
for his misdemeanors in California, he would be- 
come a great general, and an ornament to the 
military profession. I came to this conclusioii 


because, at the moment I saw him, he was pre- 
paring to repel the enemy in a most masterly 
manner. The allies were en j'^ofeiice, and had 
already attacked and dispersed Shad's advanced 
guard, making prisoners of his outlying pickets 
(his boots and hat) in a gallant manner. Then 
■with a determination to conquer or die, rushed 
upon the main body. Here, after a most despe- 
rate struggle, during which many great deeds of 
daring were exhibited, the enemy were repulsed 
with immense loss. Much as I deprecate war in 
any shape, yet I could not sufficiently admire 
the calm and collected appearance of Shad, even 
when in the heat of the meJee. One particular 
feat performed by one of Shad's feet, was observed 
by me with much astonishment, and it seemed 
to strike an Irishman very forcibly too, as he 
honored the performance by immediate prostra- 
tion. The enemy had retired to a distance, and 
no doubt held a council of war, and from the 
disposition of his forces shortly after, I judged 
his intention was to make a demonstration upon 
Shad's front, and then attack him with his whole 
concentrated force in the rear. My conjecture 
proved correct. I saw in a moment that this 
manoeuvre must prove successful, unless Shad 
could strengthen his flanks, or form himself into 
a hollow square. And here it soon became ap- 
parent how profoundly my friend had studied 
the art of attack and defence. A pocket edition 



of Vauban must have been his constant compan- 
ion, or he never could have assumed such a for- 
midable appearance as that which he now pre- 
sented. Like an able general, he had divined 
the enemy's intentions, and to meet the emergen- 
cy, had disposed his person in such a manner 
that he could swing himself around like a teeto- 
tum while lying upon his back, much the same 
as a long eighteen upon a pivot. In this position, 
or rather with this rotary motion. Shad was in- 
vulnerable. He presented a front in every direc- 
tion, and utterly defeated the enemy's most stren- 
uous efforts to capture him. 

At this stage of the proceedings, I proposed 
mediating between the high contending parties, 
which proposal being acceded to, I forthwith de- 
cided the matter in difference, (of which I did 
not understand one word,) by decreeing a forfeit- 
ure of Shad's bootS; the restoration of his hat, 
and the payment by Shad for two gallons of red- 
eye to regale the company. This last decision 
was received with marked respect by all but my 
poor friend. It was also decreed that the cap- 
tured boots should belong hereafter to the most 
devout of the belligerents. Thereupon they were 
deposited at the feet of a boy from the sod, who, 
since his prostration, had been seated on deck, 
curved up in a manner quite curious to behold. 
He resembled the capital letter G as much as 
any thing I could think of at the time. Peace 


having been solemnly proclaimed^ I had noAv an 
opportunity of better observing my friend Back's 
personal appearance. He had never been very 
remarkable for great personal beauty at any pe- 
riod of his life, and as the late battle had not 
left him wholly unscathed, it would have proved 
a great hit indeed to an artist, if he could have 
taken his likeness just then ! When we came 
on board of this infernal boat, Mr. Shad Back 
possessed a j)air of bright blue eyes, which by 
some uncommon process had been converted, du- 
ring the night, into a pair (or rather one and a 
half) of dismal black ones ; his nose, always flat, 
was now scarcely discernible at all— it had been 
absolutely beaten into his face ; lips as thick 
and black as those of a Loango negro, and without 
a tooth in his head to save him from starvation. 
The fact is, my friend Shad had received as severe 
a mauling as one man could well stagger under ; 
and although I pitied him truly and sincerely, 
yet I could not help feeling a sort of disap- 
pointment at knowing he was not drowned or 
dead in some way, and it is a great disappoint- 
ment to any one, after making extensive prepa- 
rations to mourn the fate of a man who he 
hopes will commit suicide. After he has adjusted 
his face and his garments to represent a decent 
amount of grief, and above all, after he has com- 
posed his epitaph, including therein a scrap of 
touching poetry, to find that he is not dead nor 


drowned after all, I say again, is a disappoint- 
ment and a great shame. 

But, supposing " all things are for the best," 
I swallowed my chagrin and a cup of (stewed 
mud) coffee together, resolving to write no man's 
epitaph until I had the sexton's certificate, or 
officiated in person at the crowner's or coroner's 

We landed in Stockton a little before noon of 
the same day, and thence took passage in a lum- 
ber wagon for Columbia, in or near which place 
the mines were situated. Columbia is in Tuo- 
lumne county, near the base of the Sierra Neva- 
da, and contains about 2,000 inhabitants. Its 
mines are said to be the richest in the State. As 
we had come here for the express purpose of mak- 
ing a fortune without let or hindrance, and with 
as little labor as possible, we went to work at 
once, digging and toiling like men determined 
to become millionaires within a week at the far- 
thest. In a few days we had collected a large 
mass of dirt together, and only waited for rain 
to afford us an opportunity of testing its value. 
But the rain would not come. Every morning, 
for at least a month. Shad predicted rain in tor- 
rents, and got drunk without delay, in order, as 
he said, to celebrate an event of so much conse- 
quence to our future fortunes. Sure enough, the 
rain did come at last. It continued to fall some- 
what briskly for about an hour, then it ceased for 


an hour or so. Again it fell for another hour, 
and thus during the day we had rain and sun- 
shine alternating very systematically indeed, and 
quite encouragingly. 

The amount of water that had fallen barely 
sufficed to wet the thirsty earth, and it would 
therefore require just six such rainy days to give 
us water sufficient to commence our washing op- 
erations. Mr. Back's extensive researches into 
the science of astronomy enabled him to predict 
an astonishing amount of wet weather ; at least 
such, he said, was p)'og}Wxicate(I by the starring 
ferment J that really the stars were looking so A^ery 
wet and uncomfortable, that he could not but pity 
their condition, especially jolly old Aaron, with 
the belt. Sliad had drunk a more than ordinary 
quantity of liquor that day, in commemoration, 
I suppose, of the beginning of the rainy season. 

"We were now well into the month of Decem- 
ber. The rainy season usually commences about 
the middle of November, and continues almost 
without intermission until the latter part of 
February. The year previous it had rained for 
three months without cessation ; now we had no 
rain. December passed away, and January had 
come, still the drought continued. Men and 
animals drooped, the earth had become baked, 
not a shrub, not a leaf, no, not even a blade of 
grass could be seen in any direction. A drier 
season had never been known in that region. 


Shad had been sober for several days upon com- 
pulsion entirely. He could get no more liquor, 
not because the fiery draught was scarce, but 
for want of money to pay for it. My own funds 
were out, gone to liquidate our daily expenses, 
so that the prospect before us looked gloomy 
enough. I think, had it been our good fortune 
to have water, we should have made a very 
handsome sum out of our large heap of dirt. 
Without water, to separate the precious metal 
from the dirt, we could do nothing. About the 
20th of January it rained nearly all the morn- 
ing. ^^Hope told a flattering tale." Alas for 
us poor devils, the rain ceased at noon ; this 
same half a day's rain cost Shad the only shirt 
he had for liquor. He said he felt morally cer- 
tain the rainy season had set in noiu^ and that 
he would have a regular jollification upon the 
strength of it, if it cost him his shirt, and it did 
cost him his shirt. 

The season was now so far advanced that we 
could no longer hope for continuous rain, if it 
came at all ; so I resolved, though with reluc- 
tance and after much deliberation, to abandon 
our pile of gold and make the best of my way 
back to San Francisco. It was all well enough 
that I should make a resolve of this description, 
but the principal part of the affair would be to 
carry it into eff*ect. The primum mobile, the 
sinews of ivar, the ivherewith must first be found 


before I could budge an inch. It was next to 
impossible to expect aid or counsel from poor 
Shad. He, good, susceptible soul, had fallen a 
willing victim to the artful blandishments of an 
ancient squaw, not so much on account of her 
great personal attractions as in consequence of 
her valuable possessions, which consisted of a 
dilapidated blanket and a keg of whiskey. I 
was quite charmed with the appearance of the 
squaw, she so strongly resembled a kangaroo; 
indeed it was quite a treat to see the pair to- 
gether, it being problematical which was the 
most hideous, or the most beastly. I found it 
utterly useless to remonstrate with him ; in fact, 
he never was in a fitting condition to under- 
stand me : so I made up my mind to leave him. 
Through the kindness of a friend, which was 
afterwards reciprocated, I was enabled to j^ay the 
few debts I had contracted, and to leave Columbia 
with a trifle of money, which, with economy, 
enabled me to reach San Francisco in due time. 
Thus terminated my last mining adventure in 
the gold regions of California. 




The title of our chapter will bring up to the 
minds of all who visited California, during its 
early days, some startling recollections. The 
Vigilance Committee was the institution of that 
country, striking terror into all evil doers. Like 
all energetic associations, it was capable of being 
abused and sometimes ran into extremes, but its 
worst enemies cannot deny that it was the only 
thing which could suppress crime at the time it 
was in power. 

Great mistakes are made in regard to this or- 
ganization by most writers who have spoken of 
it. They have committed the very common error 
of judging of the institutions of one set of people 
by the standard of another. They have applied 
to California the same rule which would guide 
them in their judgment of an Atlantic State. In 
reality, however, there is no parallel between 
the two. The latter is inhabited by a population 
educated to regard the law as the paramount 
authority. The lawless are in the minority 
among them. Years of good government have 
taught the criminal to look upon the public au- 


thorities as his bitterest foes, and the honest 
man to regard them as his friends and protectors. 

In California, however, every thing was the 
reverse of this. No sooner were her doors thrown 
open and her treasures disclosed, than people 
from every quarter of the globe thronged to her 
shores. Men of industrious habits and adven- 
turous spirit went thither of course, as they al- 
ways hasten to every new field of enterprise. 
The crowd of newcomers, however, was swelled 
by others of a far different character. Plunder 
was of course to be had, and the swindlers and 
desperadoes, who live by their wits, were quite 
as eager to visit the new country as were the 
honest miners who had come to wrench fortune 
from the flinty bowels of the earth by their 
brawny arms. 

Villains from all parts of the world swarmed 
upon the new soil. Cunning sharpers from New 
England, desperate vagabonds from Texas, bogus 
men from the north-west, and reckless plunderers 
from the prairies hastened to California like crows 
to a corn-field. Mexico sent thither her sly rob- 
bers. Chili and Peru furnished their secret assas- 
sins. The penal colonies of Grreat Britain vom- 
ited their refuse upon this unhappy land, and 
even savage pirates from the Eastern Archipel- 
ago found their way to El Dorado. The terri- 
tory numbered among her inhabitants accom- 
plished thieves, burglars and cut-throats from 


every civilized and barbarous country witbin 
reacb, men who bad been familiar with courts 
and jails, and all punisbments sbort of deatb. 

It may readily be understood wbat a state of 
society existed tbere. Tbe laws of tbe United 
States were, by a figure of speecb, said to be in 
force over tbe new territory. Really, bowever, 
tbey were as impotent as tbey are in a village of 
Blackfeet among tbe Rocky Mountains. The of- 
ficers of tbe law were utterly powerless. Rarely 
did they attempt to assert their authority, and 
when they did make the effort, they signally 
failed. The only law recognized tbere was that 
of the strongest. The correct aim_, tbe steady 
hand, tbe strong arm were the only protectors 
of a Californian in those days. He might as well 
lean upon a wilted blade of grass as upon tbe 
legal authorities. 

This condition of afi'airs afibrded a fine harvest 
to the amiable gentlemen who bad come hither 
to practice their professions. Robberies and 
murders became every-day occurrences, of no 
more importance than an assault and battery on 
election day. Tbe most daring outrages were 
every where committed with impunity. Unof- 
fending men were shot down and pillaged in 
broad daylight ; shops were broken open ; haci- 
endas were stormed ; — in short, the country was 
in a state of siege, and the blackguards were in 
the ascendent. 


At this critical period, some of the settlers for- 
tunately recollected a similar state of affairs in 
the country between the Mississippi and the Al- 
leghanies, and the sharp but effective remedy 
which was then applied. They remembered how 
organized bands of robbers had infested the 
states and territories of the Mississippi Valley, 
how judges and constables and sheriffs had been 
connected with these infamous associations, how 
justice was perpetually defrauded of her dues, 
because juries composed of members of the same 
villainous fraternity could easily be packed ; 
and how, finally, the honest portion of the com- 
munity, exasperated beyond endurance by these 
repeated villainies, took the law in their own 
hands, and remorselessly hung and shot all the 
desperadoes who fell into their power, with the 
ultimate effect of restoring peace and good order. 

The same evil demanded the same remedy. 
The Vigilance Committee was organized. It was 
composed of the best men in San Francisco, men 
who would have been the most zealous support- 
ers of the law, had there been any law to sup- 
port ; men of firmness and resolution who were 
determined to have peace and security at all 
hazards. It was not exactly a secret society, but 
some sort of privacy was necessary to be ob- 
served. Were its agents generally known^ not 
only would they be marked out for the secret 
vengeance of the vermin they were hunting down, 


but tlieir vigilance would be more easily evaded, 
and the operations of the committee crippled. 

The most important question which occurred 
to the committee, at its very formation, was the 
disposition to be made of the criminals arrested 
by its agents. They had no prisons at their 
command, and had no time to devote to the te- 
dious formalities of law proceedings. Kopes, 
however, were at their disposal, and even Cali- 
fornia had trees enough to answer their purposes, 
except San Francisco, where the pulleys upon 
hoisting beams which projected from the ware- 
houses afforded a very convenient substitute. 
Their code, therefore, necessarily resembled 
Draco's. For graver crimes they hung their 
culprits, for minor offences they flogged them, 
rode them on rails, tarred and feathered them, 
and ordered them away from a settlement within 
a given time under penalty of sharper punish- 
ment. Their threats were generally punctually 
executed. Their principle was that of Mr. Car- 
lyle — to get rid of rascality by exterminating the 

The results of the proceedings of this commit- 
tee were beneficial in the highest degree. Be- 
fore its establishment, it was dangerous to walk 
the streets of San Francisco in broad daylight ; 
after it had been in operation for a short time, 
that city became as safe as any upon the other 
sea-board. They retained their authority until 


a State government had been formed, its officers 
duly appointed, and its sovereignty proclaimed ; 
after which they laid it down. "Whatever may 
be thought of the organization, no one can ac- 
cuse it of intentional injustice. Hasty they may 
occasionally have been, but deliberately wrong, 
never. The best tribute that could be paid to 
their honesty and efficiency was the general ap- 
prehension of the people on the occasion of the 
charge just alluded to. They dreaded the estab- 
lishment of a government of law, and generally 
preferred the irresponsible action of the commit- 
tee. It is also a well ascertained fact that Cali- 
fornia has never been so orderly as it was under 
their rule. Immediately upon their resignation, 
the rogues began to breathe more freely, and 
crime to increase. 

We have already said that this committee has 
been harshly judged and unjustly condemned by 
persons who were imperfectly or not at all ac- 
quainted with the facts in the case. These very 
men, however, recognize the necessity and ac- 
knowledge the benefits of the Holy Yehm. They 
can see plainly enough that the robber barons 
" who spared not man in their anger nor woman 
in their lust," who were a curse and a nuisance 
to all honest people, needed to be struck sud- 
denly and without remedy by some invisible 
hand, which they could neither escape by flight, 
intimidate by threats, nor bribe with money. 


They cannot understand, however, that the ple- 
beian scoundrels of California required the same 
sharp and summary punishments which were 
needed for the rascally noblemen of the dreaded 
Ked Land of Westphalia. It is very easy for 
people who sit by their comfortable firesides and 
look out upon well-fed policemen patrolling the 
streets, conspicuous by their glittering star, to 
descant upon the beauties of law and order. The 
man, however, who has just been knocked down 
and robbed in San Francisco by a vagabond who 
cannot be brought to justice, has not so clear a 
perception of the necessity of resorting to a tri- 
bunal which is powerless to punish, or of appeal- 
ing to a constable who is equally unable to pro- 
tect him from injury. These things have a rela- 
tive, not an actual value ; they are, or, perhaps 
I ought to say, they were worthless in California. 
A cockney traveler might as well take a London 
policeman to Sebastopol to prevent the Cossacks 
from taking liberties with his sacred person. 

The main thing every where to be attained is 
order, that honest men may do their work in 
peace and quietness. If law gives them this, 
well and good. Law must be supported. If law 
is powerless, then the rifle, or the knife, or the 
rope must take its place. In so unsettled a state 
of society, as that which existed in California at 
the time of which we are speaking, the first thing 
is to strike terror into the ruffians. That must 


"be done, let the cost be what it may. After the 
power of the honest man is established on a firm 
basis, then it is time enough to organize courts 
of law. 

The quiet and honest settlers of California 
were fully convinced of the necessity of this com- 
mittee, and zealously supported it. Indeed, the 
committee rarely acted alone. Almost always 
the citizens were called in, and had as much to 
say as the members of this self-constituted tri- 
bunal upon the case in hand. They only took 
the initiative ; they saw that the scoundrels did 
not escape ; the public did the rest. 

As for the thieves, robbers and rascals of every 
grade, they entertained a wholesome terror of this 
energetic organization. When one of them re- 
ceived his orders to quit a certain place, he did 
not dare to disobey. He knew that unless he did 
what he was commanded, his punishment was 
inevitable. The committee was as inexorable as 
destiny itself 

I have no time to go into the examination of 
the arguments advanced against such an institu- 
tion as this. A glance at one or two must sufiice. 
It has been said that the committee was irre- 
sponsible, and that it is highly dangerous to en- 
trust the power of life and death to irresponsible 
hands. In truth, however, the committee was 
not irresponsible. It sprang from the people, 
and though not formally elected by them, was 


nevertheless tacitly acknowledged. All its power 
resulted from the fact that it was a genuine 
exponent of public opinion, a faithful executor 
of the public will. The moment it failed fairly 
to represent the people, that moment its days 
were numbered. The members of the committee 
knew perfectly well that the same fate which 
they decreed to the cul})rits who fell into their 
hands, awaited them, should they ever become 
dangerous to the people. 

Again, they have been accused of haste and 
cruelty in their operations. We have already 
said something on this head. Perhaps, however, 
it may be well to speak more directly to this 
charge. The necessity of punishment must be 
granted. There is no other mode of preserving 
order. Now, it must be remembered that Cali- 
fornia was then really in a state of anarchy, 
though nominally under the government of the 
United States. Every body did that which was 
right in his own eyes, or rather what his incli- 
nation prompted him to attempt. The conse- 
quence was, as we have already said, that mur- 
ders and robberies were every-day occurrences. 
Life and property were wholly unprotected. In 
this state of affairs the vigilance committee took 
the matter up, and determined to regulate affairs. 
What were they to do with a criminal once 
caught ? To take bail for him, and let him run 
till a certain course of regular formalities could 


be gone through with ? That would have been 
an extremely judicious proceeding. The escaped 
scoundrel would have committed further depre- 
dations^ and, in all probability, the most conspic- 
uous of the committee would have fallen victims 
to his vengeance. It was necessary, therefore, 
to try him at once, or else let him go scot-free. 
The trial over, and conviction obtained, the sen- 
tence, whatever it might be, required to be im- 
mediately executed, because they had no place of 
safe-keeping for him. If exile was decreed, he 
was forthwith drummed out of the settlement ; 
if he was to be hung, the rope was immediately 
provided. There was no help for it ; unless jus- 
tice were summary, it was null. 

As for the charge of cruelty, it must be ac- 
knowledged that the code of the vigilance com- 
mittee was severe. They hung for many offences 
which, in the Eastern States, can only deprive a 
man of his liberty. This also was a matter of 
necessity. Such severity was requisite to strike 
terror into the lawless vagabonds who infested the 
newly settled country. Besides, it was doing no 
more than was done in civilized, refined, enlight- 
ened England less than fifty years ago. Indeed, 
the vigilance committee were more merciful than 
the authorities of that realm, who hung a rogue 
for stealing a hat. It was only when a robbery 
was attended with circumstances of peculiar atro- 
city that they resorted to this extreme punishment. 


Allowance must also be made for the state of 
feeling among the people in regard to capital 
punishment. It did not inflict such a shock upon 
them as it does on the inhabitants of an old, reg- 
ularly governed country. Life was held very 
cheap there ; it was taken upon the slightest 
provocation. Every man went armed, and wea- 
pons were resorted to at the commencement of a 
fray. The dry goods man, who measured out 
calico behind his counter, waited on his custom- 
ers with a pair of revolvers stuck in his belt. 
The customers, wild, savage looking men, leaned 
upon their rifles or played with their bowie- 
knives while making their bargain. The pur- 
chase completed, the buyer threw down his 
leathern bag of gold dust, the seller weighed 
out the proper quantity and returned the rest. 
Should a dispute arise, few words were inter- 
changed ; arms were immediately appealed to, 
and the question was speedily settled. It is but 
fair, however, to say that, during these early 
days, the regular traders had but few difficulties 
with the miners, arising from attempts to defraud. 
Clearly, such a state of society cannot be judged 
by the same rule which applies to a settled and 
orderly community. A scene which I witnessed 
at Sacramento will probably give my readers a 
better idea of the mode of proceeding adopted 
by the vigilance committee, than any lengthened 
description of mere generalities. 


A man who had recently returned from the 
mines, and was on his way to his home on the 
Atlantic coast, arrived in Sacramento one morn- 
ing, and put up at the Orleans hotel. He had 
been quite successful in his labors, and brought 
in a goodly quantity of gold dust, a portion of 
which only he had deposited ; the rest he carried 
about his person for current expenses. Elated 
with his good fortune, he could not refrain from 
boasting of his skill and judgment, and the ex- 
cellent results he had obtained. He exhibited 
sundry little leather bags, and picked out nug- 
gets remarkable for size or for oddity of form, 
which he exhibited freely to all the inmates of 
the house. He had one irregular mass of gold, 
which, to his fancy, resembled a race-horse. 
Another jagged, shapeless lump, he conceived 
to be a perfect likeness of Mr. Polk, whom he 
greatly admired, and this he declared his inten- 
tion of having made into a breast-pin. He talked 
largely of the great things he would do with his 
money when he reached home, and, in the excess 
of his liberality, ^^ treated the crowd " to innu- 
merable cock-tails and smashes. 

Two men, who were unknown to the people of 
the hotel, seemed particularly interested in the 
history of his exploits, and professed to have ac- 
quired a high regard for him personally, during 
their brief acquaintance. They swore he was a 
trump, that such a good fellow deserved to make 


money, and professed to rejoice in his success as 
greatly as though it had been their own. They 
too, they said, had just come in from the mines, 
where they had made a few ounces, though noth- 
ing like what our friend had secured. They were 
so exhilarated by his good fortune that they 
vowed they would return and try their luck 
again. They had come down with the intention 
of going home, but they did not like to be beaten 
by any one, so they would just " knock around " 
the city a little, have some fun, and go back to 
the mines the next day. Our friend was " such 
a devilish good fellow," that they were proud to 
have made his acquaintance, and would enjoy 
their frolic ten-fold if they could only prevail 
upon him to accompany them. 

Their proposition was accepted. Success and 
" red-eye " had rendered him more than usually 
confiding, and the three strolled away, amid the 
laughter of the crowd, reeling, hiccoughing, and 
swearing eternal friendship. They rambled off 
to a back street, engaged in the same interesting 
conversation. Suddenly one of the companions 
of our hero disengaged himself from his arm, 
slipped behind him, and with a billet gave him a 
tremendous blow upon the head, which knocked 
him bleeding upon the pavement. He was 
stunned only for a moment, and the blow seemed 
to have sobered him. He began to struggle, 
when his other newly found friend joined in the 

250 THE VIGrLA^\^: committee. 

assault. The t\yo together behibored him severely 
over the head till he lay senseless and motion- 
less upon the pavement. Thinking they had 
quieted him lor ever, they proceeded to rifle his 
pockets, and soon stripped him of every thing 
valuable he had about his person. They then 
made oflf with their booty. 

Strange as it may sound to my reader, this 
outrage was perpetrated about three o'clock on a 
summer afternoon. Some persons in the neigh- 
borhood witnessed the whole aflair, and imme- 
diatelv o^ave the alarm. The vi^-ilance commit- 
tee, ever on the alert, were soon in pursuit, and 
the scoundrels were captured a short distance 
from the outskirts of the city. The news spread 
with great rapidity, and soon a large crowd had 
collected. When I reached the scene of action, 
the members of the committee were escorting 
the culprits to a little grove of stunted oaks which 
stood upon the outskirts of the town. There was 
an expression of calm determination on the faces 
of the committee, of ansrrv excitement on those 
of the rest of the crowd. Furious cries of " hang 
them !" burst from the mob, but did not seem to 
excite or ruffle the chief actors in this terrible 
drama, who went about their duties with great 
system and deliberation. As for the criminals 
themselves, a more villainous pair of faces it was 
never my fortune to look upon. Low brows, 
heavy features, and cold steel-gray eyes, gave 


them the expreflsion with whicli CruikHhanks has 
pictured Sykes in his illustratioriHof Oliver Twist. 
They were Australian convicts, hrutal wretclics, 
whose hands were red with blood. 

A jury was immediately empanneled by order 
of the committee, one of whom acted as judge. 
^' Fellow-citizens," said he, " these men have 
been accused of perpetrating an atrocious crime 
within the limits of this city. We are now ready 
to give them a fair trial. Those gentlemen 
who witnessed the outrage will now come forward 
and give in their testimony !" 

The culprits were made to confront the jury, 
guarded by members of the Vigilance Committee. 
Several citizens came forward and stated what 
they had seen, and others from the hotel identi- 
fied the prisoners as the men who went off with 
the unlucky miner. They also recognized the 
bags and the nuggets which were taken from 
them as the same which had been exhibited at 
the hotel. As for the wounded man, he was too 
badly hurt to testify. 

The case was fairly made out against them, 
the jury gave in their verdict, and the judge 
formally inquired what the convicts had to say 
why sentence should not be pronounced upon 
them. They muttered out a few unintelligible 
words, when with a clear loud voice, he said : 
^'Prisoners, you have been found guilty of a 
murderous assault and robbery. You have had 


a fair trial, and the sentence of this court is that 
you be forthwith hung by the neck till you are 
dead! One hour will be granted for such re- 
ligious exercises as you may desire. If there is 
any one present who is disposed to render these 
men any religious service, he is requested to 
come forward." 

A man, who represented himself as a Method- 
ist preacher, now advanced to the miserable men, 
said a few words to them in a low tone of voice, 
and then knelt down to pray beside them. Du- 
ring this part of the ceremony, the crowd stood 
silently by, and many took off their hats. 

Presently the preacher rose and mingled with 
the crowd. A man advanced to the culprits and 
carefully pinioned their arms with a strong rope. 
At this stage of the proceedings, they seemed to 
be fully aroused to a sense of their danger. They 
looked around and seemed to scrutinize every 
face in the whole assembled multitude. Never 
shall I forget that mute, appealing gaze. It was 
useless ; not a face in the whole crowd wore an 
aspect of mercy; but again arose the angry 
shout: "Hang them 1 hang them 1" The judge 
now called out, " Gentlemen I the hour is up 1" 
whereupon they were led to a tree and swung 
off. A few struggles and all was over. The 
crowd quietly dispersed ; the excitement sub- 
sided, and an hour afterwards no one would have 
suspected that any thing unusual had happened. 


Such proceedings as these — the absolute and 
inevitable certainty of punishment — produced 
order throughout the State. Indeed, it was the 
Vigilance Committee alone that ever has enforced 
obedience to law. The State's Attorney of San 
Francisco states that in four years twelve hundred 
murders had been perpetrated, and only one of the 
criminals loas convicted. What wonder if some 
people still sigh for the days of the Vigilance 
Committee ? 


254 BODEGA. 



Once more in San Francisco, I made prepara- 
tions to return to the Atlantic States as rapidly 
as my health and dilapidated means would per- 
mit. Before leaving this pseudo Eldorado for 
ever and aye, I had a wish to see a celebrated 
grazing district, famed for its vast herds of 
horned cattle and wild horses ; and so, having 
hired at an enormous price a sorry looking mule, 
like the knight of La Mancha mounted upon 
Eosinante, I sallied forth from San Francisco in 
search of new adventures. I took the high road 
along the bay towards Bodega, a small town sit- 
uated upon the Pacific coast, 60 miles north-east 
from San Francisco. I had hardly cleared the 
suburbs of the city, when my mule began to ex- 
hibit qualities very far from respectable ; as, for 
example, he would stop suddenly, hold down his 
head, plant his fore feet firmly, and reflect, I 
suppose, upon the proper moment to pitch me 
over his head. He had a very uncomfortable 
way too of throwing up his head, and more than 
once just grazed my nose ; then he was so play- 
ful ! jerking the bridle suddenly and casting 

BODEGA. 255 

his head round so as almost to reach my leg with 
his teeth. And, moreover, I judged him to be 
partial to botanical studies, from the fact of his 
taking every opportunity of pushing his way 
through the scrub bushes that lined the road, as 
if he thought the occasion favorable to scrape me 
off his back. I have never been very famous for 
my skill in equitation, nor have I ever been too 
anxious to intrust myself to the care and safe- 
keeping of other legs than my own, and I must 
acknowledge that when I discovered the little 
pleasing eccentricities already enumerated, I 
thought it would be most prudent to return; 
and would have done so, only that the devilish 
brute would not consent to take the back track ; 
by wliich I mean that, when I attempted to turn 
his head homeward, he commenced such a series 
of circumgyratory evolutions that I remained 
long in doubt as to which of my limbs would re- 
main unbroken when I did come to the ground, 
a catastrophe by no means far distant if he con- 
tinued to spin around five minutes longer. I 
clung to the pummel of the Spanish saddle, how- 
ever, with the gripe of a maniac, shouting wo 1 
with an unction and vigor that I am sure con- 
tributed as much as any thing else towards stop- 
ping the incarnate devil in his mad career. Any 
person, to have seen my involuntary performances 
on this trying occasion, would most assuredly 
have pronounced me the best circus rider in the 

256 BODEGA. 

known world. I am favorably known at home as 
an even tempered, nay, as a good tempered person ; 
but I verily believe I lost my temper here on 
this spot, not that I remember to have ever been 
profane, but I am sure I consigned the wretch to 
the safe-keeping of a nameless personage, with a 
particular request regarding the future disposi- 
tion of his eyes and limbs. As I could do no- 
thing better, I let him have his own way, and for 
the next hour or so we sot alons: verv well to- 
gether, and I really began to think well of his 
muleship ; when suddenly, and as if by magic, I 
found myself upon my back in the road, and the 
precious villain prancing and curveting within 
fifty feet of where I lay, as if in the very act of 
rejoicing that he had thrown me there. I had 
received a slight bruise upon one of my shoul- 
ders by the fall, a matter not deserving much 
attention, and was considering the best method 
of catching the atrocious robber, as he very de- 
liberately walked up to me, and adjusted his po- 
sition so that I could mount him again with 
ease, which I did without delay. Shortly after, 
we reached a Chinese encampment — all men, or 
at least I supposed so. They looked exactly 
alike in face and in dress. Two or three were 
assembled around a fire, the rest were gambling ; 
those by the fire were engaged in cooking rats 
in an expeditious manner. I should think there 
might have been about a bushel of these animals 

BODEGA. ' 257 

altogether, and they were laid with their skins 
on, from time to time, upon a bed of hot embers 
to broil ; it was a very primitive way of replen- 
ishing the larder ! However, I did not dine with 
the celestials ; I had an indistinct idea at the 
moment that the moon's relatives were exceed- 
ingly respectable, only something the filthiest. 
Without much further trouble or delay we ar- 
rived, towards midnight, at Bodega. My mule 
behaved like a trump during the latter part of 
the journey, but only after frolicking for about 
three quarters of an hour up and down a small 
stream upon our road, which his excellency in- 
sisted upon surveying, even from its source to its 

Bodega contains not more than four hundred 
inhabitants, including '^Digger" Indians, "nig- 
gers" and dogs, the last by far the most useful 
and most decent of the concern. The people of 
the town told me that the place was first settled 
by tlie Russians, but no vestiges remain of the 
original settlers to denote who or what they were. 
A very worthy man is the sole proprietor of the 
town now — he is an American ; some years since 
resided in Valparaiso, where he married several 
bags of doubloons, a large lot of cattle, some fine 
horses, and a Chilian lady ; removed to Califor- 
nia and became tlie possessor of the town of Bo- 
dega, and a very large portion of the surround- 
ing country. For my part, I could see nothing 

258 BODEGA. 

very seductive in Bodega, nothing that could 
keep me there a week. The country is almost 
destitute of timber, with here and there a woody 
knoll. The surface of the land is rolling, soil 
good, and well adapted for farming purposes. 
In fact, it is said to be the best grazing section 
in the State of California. Dense fogs prevail 
throughout the summer months : from these the 
earth receives a sujQicient quantity of moisture 
to answer all the purposes of rain. An abun- 
dant crop of grass is produced, upon which vast 
herds ui' cattle and droves of horses are raised. 
The horned cattle are slaughtered in immense 
numbers, merely for their horns, hides and tallow. 
Twelve miles south-east of Bodega is the little 
village of Petaluma, situated upon the margin 
of an extensive swamp or morass, through which 
a small stream winds its way to the bay of San 
Francisco. This morass is entirely overflowed 
during the winter. In the summer it becomes 
perfectly dry, and cracks open in every imagina- 
ble direction to the depth of twelve or fifteen 
feet, the crevices varying from one to eight 
inches in width. At an early period the Indians 
captured entire herds of horned cattle in the 
summer by driving them into this morass. If 
an animal attempts to cross this fissured spot he 
must assuredly break his legs. It is no uncom- 
mon occurrence daily to find three or four wild 
horses, and as many more horned cattle, vainly 

BODEGA. 259 

struggling to extricate their fractured limbs from 
the clefts and crevices in this death-dealing Gol- 
gotha. In this situation they are quickly dis- 
patched by the Indians and others living in the 
vicinity, stripped of their hides, and the carcasses 
left for the birds of prey. Owing to certain pre- 
servative properties in the atmosphere, animal 
matter does not undergo decomposition in this 
region with the same degree of rapidity that it 
does in other sections of the Atlantic States in 
the same parallels of latitude, and it is not un- 
usual to see the carcasses of slain animals upon 
this very morass, a month or more after they 
have fallen, in a good state of preservation, and 
without emitting, in any great degree, an offen- 
sive odor. 

Upon my return to Bodega, I witnessed the 
punishment of an Indian boy for theft. This 
was the case : The boy had stolen a trifling sum 
from the house of an American, and being shortly 
after detected with the money in his possession, 
he was sentenced to expiate his offence in a very 
novel manner ; and here I might with great pro- 
priety use the language of Lord Byron, the scene 
reminded me so strongly of the main incidents 
of his Mazeppa. A wild horse that ha*d been 
caught with the lasso only the day before, was 
brought out, and the boy's person in an upright 
position securely strapped to his back. The boy 
thus bound, the horse was then freed from re- 

260 BODEGA. 

straint by the men that held him, and with a 
cut from a whip, he bounded away with the 
speed and swiftness of an arrow shot from a 
bow. The race, however, was of short duration. 
He had scarcely accomplished the third of a mile, 
when he suddenly threw himself, and with fran- 
tic efforts endeavored to roll over and over, in 
order to rid himself of his burden. In these 
struggles, one of the boy's legs was literally 
crushed into a bloody mass. The violent exer- 
tions of the animal had so far exhausted his 
strength, that he was unable to rise. In this 
condition, we had time to come up and liberate 
the boy from his bonds, but not until the poor 
creature had ceased to breathe. He was quite 
dead, and another murder was to be added to the 
long list of California crimes. Horror-sticken 
and distressed at the scene of ruthless barbarity 
I had just witnessed, I made my way out of the 
villasre of Bodesra, wonderino: if the s^ood Grod 
would permit such an unparalleled atrocity to 
pass unpunished. 

In returning, I took the road through the val- 
leys of Sonoma and Napa to Benicia ; feeling fa- 
tigued and somewhat indisposed upon reaching 
the city of Benicia, I determined to rest there 
a day or two. Benicia contains about 1500 in- 
habitants, is 40 miles north-east from San Fran- 
cisco, situated upon a branch of the Sacramento 
river. The city is regularly laid out on a gentle 


slope, rising from the water's edge to the hills in 
the rear. Benicia is a port of entry, contains an 
arsenal, a navy-yarcl, and extensive docks for 
repairing and refitting steamers. Ships of the 
largest class can come up to the wharves. It 
has been proposed to establish the seat of govern- 
ment of the State here. It must be by no means 
understood that I liad traveled thus far upon my 
return without trouble from the antics and ex- 
travagances of my mule, being somewhat upon 
my guard, I more than once foiled him in his 
design of getting me off his back. I have seen 
vicious animals in my time, but never saw any 
thing to equal the cunning and malice of this 
one. It seemed as if he had been taught every 
thing that was bad, and being naturally vicious, 
had become by long practice more than a match 
for man. Desirous of examining more closely 
a singularly formed elevation some fifteen miles 
from Benicia, known as Monte Diabolo, I set out 
the third morning after my sojourn in Benicia 
to visit this famous mountain. Mounted upon 
my rascally mule, I had unfortunately suf- 
fered myself to be persuaded to wear a pair of 
Spanish spurs, having been assured that the 
fractious conduct of the mule heretofore was en- 
tirely owing to my not providing myself with 
these persuaders at the commencement of my 
journey. I had ridden barely the half of a mile, 
when the accursed animal was seized with a 


fiend-like desire to break my neck and his own 
too. With tliis commendable purpose in view, 
he began by taking short leaps forward, back- 
ward and sideways, varied every now and then 
by an effort to throw me over his head, by cast- 
ing his hind legs higli into the air, or in endea- 
voring to tbrce me off by standing almost up- 
right, and pawing the air with his fore feet. I 
maintained my seat with difficulty during these 
fiendish gambols, and plied him with the spurs. 
This settled the matter at once, for no sooner did 
I plunge the sharp rowels into his infernal sides, 
than he stood for a moment, as if to gather 
strength for a more mighty effort; then, drop- 
ping his head, he suddenly threw out his hind 
feet with such violence as to eject me from his 
back with an impetus that I am astonished did 
not crush every bone in my body, and kill me 
outriglit. As it was, my left leg only was broken. 
The mule, demon as he was, seemed to exult in 
his misdeeds, and to be well content with the 
(to him) triumphant termination of the contest ; 
at least I judged so, from his sounding the 
trumpet of victory long and loud ; he brayed 
incessantly for an hour. My leg was broken 
just above the ankle, and whenever I moved gave 
me exquisite pain. What to do I did not know ; 
I could not move. I was somewhat comforted, 
however, by reflecting that I should not lie in 
this helpless condition long. I was on the high- 

BODEGA. 263 

way, and some traveler must pass soon. I shouted 
with all the voice I had left ; pain and agony 
had weakened me so much, that I feared death 
would ensue before my situation could be known. 
At length I attempted to drag myself upon my 
hands and knees towards Benicia, then less than 
a mile distant. In the effort, the agony I endured 
caused me to faint. I know not how long I lay 
in this death-like condition. When I again re- 
turned to consciousness, I found myself in bed, 
with my broken limb confined between splints, 
after having been properly set by a surgeon. 
Many weary days and nights were passed upon 
a bed of sickness. I received every attention 
from the kind people into whose hands I had 
fallen. These good Samaritans had found me 
insensible by the wayside, my mule standing 
within ten feet of me, very gravely contemplat- 
ing his handiwork, afterwards suffering himself 
to be led back to Benicia, without making the 
slightest demonstration of discontent. As soon 
as my new friends discovered the cause of my 
accident, it was proposed to shoot the mule forth- 
with. To this summary disposition of the ma- 
lignant brute I objected, not from any desire to 
save his worthless carcass, but from a wish to 
return him to his more worthless owner in San 
Francisco, whom I had some hope the animal 
would cripple for life upon some future day. 
I therefore requested my friends to have him 

264 BODEGA. 

returned to his owner by the first opportunity 
that o£fered. 

My most constant attendant was an old negro 
named Ben. A better nurse I could not have 
had than this same old fellow. As he was quite 
an original, I will describe him. Ben was about 
four feet six inches in height, very thin and 
very black; his grandfather must have been a 
chimpanzee — I feel quite sure of that, because 
his features were precisely those of an ancient 
baboon ; his age might be about fifty or fifty- 
five, and at an earlier day he may have had a 
nose, I doubt it, though ; at any rate he had none 
when I saw him. No ! not a bit. It had disap- 
peared altogether. The wool grew within an 
inch of his eye-brows, and he had but one eye. 
Ordinarily and for economy's sake, Ben was very 
simply attired in canvas pantaloons and the 
remnant of a red woolen shirt — disdaining hat 
and shoes, except upon great occasions and State 
celebrations ; then, indeed, Ben shone conspicu- 
ous in all the glory of an immensely high bell- 
crowned white hat, with a narrow rim and a 
broad green ribbon to match, a tall, stiff shirt 
collar that reached his ears, a military stock, 
tightly buckled around his neck, which efiect- 
ually prevented the wearer from looking down- 
ward, a whitish looking something that had 
been worn for at least seven years as an overcoat 
by a tall, stout man^ now served Ben in the 

BODEGA. 265 

capacity of a dress coat ; to be sure he had " cur- 
tailed its fair proportions'' by cutting off one and 
a half feet of the skirts, six inches of the sleeves 
and a good large piece of the collar. It was a 
nice garment. A pair of breeches so tight that 
he slept in them upon occasions when he had 
used much exercise, for the simple reason that 
he could not get them off without greatly en- 
dangering their respectable appearance; boots 
large and somewhat dilapidated, of course the 
legs of the tights could not be drawn over the 
boots, therefore they were tucked inside. But 
the crowning glory of the entire outer man was 
a broad, shining, black leather belt, drawn so 
tightly around his waist, that he breathed at 
times short and sharp. 

To Ben's many other great talents must be 
added his very great proficiency in music. He 
performed very spiritedly indeed upon the bass 
drum, and when necessary, could do the jingling 
upon the triangle. But his forte was the fife, 
and it was a pleasing sight to see him upon a 
gala day, rigged as described, lugging a huge 
drum buckled to his breast bone, thrashing away 
with both hands as if his life depended upon the 
amount of confusion he created. Suddenly he 
would cease, and drawing the fife from the depths 
of his breeches pocket, would favor the procession 
or company with an air from " Norma," or from 
somewhere else. Heroic Ben ! can I ever forget 

266 BODEGA. 

the day when, attired in all his hravery, tall hat, 
big coat, old boots, bright belt, long drum, short 
fife and all, he hobbled past the house wherein I 
lay, followed by all the boys, girls and dogs in 
the place ? It was some saint's day, and the Mex- 
icans had hired Ben as chief musician to aid with 
such music as he had on hand in doing proper 
honor to his saintship ; and he did it, too, much 
to the admiration of every one within hearing. 
No ! I shall never forget that day ; I think the 
sight hastened the recovery of my health and 

At the end of five weeks, the doctor told me 
I could travel without danger to my leg, pro- 
vided I was careful ; accordingly I took passage 
on board of the steamer New World for San 
Francisco, and, with Ben as my body-guard, 
reached that city late in the evening of the same 
day without any further accident. I immediately 
put myself under the care of an able physician, 
and in a very short time experienced no incon- 
venience from my now perfect leg. As to Ben, he 
would not leave me, and in fact he made himself 
so necessary to my comfort that I was quite loth 
to part with him. He was a good servant, a good 
nurse, and honest as far as circumstances would 
permit ; but he would get liquor to drink some 
how ; no matter in what shape it came, Ben must 
have liquor ; buy, beg, borrow or steal, have it 
he would. I have known him to drink the doc- 

BODEGA. 267 

tor's prescriptions, in consequence of their hav- 
ing a small quantity of brandy in them ; but for 
this failing I think I should have brought him 
back with me to the Atlantic States ; as it was, I 
parted from him only upon the day that I sailed 
for home. 




Of all the aborigines that are known to trav- 
elers within the limits of the western continent, 
the Digger Indians are certainly the most filthy 
and abominable. A worse set of vagabonds can- 
not be found bearing the human form. They 
come into the world and go from it to as little 
purpose as other carnivorous animals. Their 
chief characteristics are indolence and gluttony. 
Partially wrapped in filthy rags, with their per- 
sons unwashed, hair uncombed and swarming 
with vermin, they may be seen loitering about 
the kitchens and slaughter-houses awaiting with 
eager gaze to seize upon and devour like hungry 
wolves such ofial or garbage as may be thrown 
to them from time to time. Grasshoppers, snails 
and wasps are favorite delicacies with them, and 
they have a peculiar relish for a certain little 
animal, which the Bible tells us greatly afflicted 
the Egyptians in the days of Pharaoh. The male 
Digger never hunts — he is too lazy for this ; he 
usually depends upon the exertions of his squaw 
to provide something or other to satisfy the 
cravings of hunger. 


The term Digger has been applied to these 
Indians in consequence of their method of pro- 
curing their food. The grasshopper or cricket of 
California is one of their favorite messes. They 
capture these insects by first digging a pit in the 
ground, and then forming a wide circle round it 
which is gradually narrowed. In this manner 
they drive the insects to the pit and there cap- 
ture them. After having secured their prey, the 
next thing is to prepare it for food. This is ac- 
complished either by baking the grasshoppers 
in the fire or drying them in the sun, after 
which the Diggers pulverize them. The epicures 
among them crush service-berries into a jam and 
thoroughly incorporate the pulverized insects 
with the pulpy mass to which they have reduced 
the fruit. Others mix their cricket meal with 
parched sunflower seed, but this is an advance 
in civilization and in the luxuries of the table, 
which is made by very few of them. They ob- 
tain the young wasps by burning the grass, 
which exposes the nests and enables them to 
grub in the earth for this delicacy. 

Acorns are also a favorite article of diet with 
these wretched creatures. In California,, this 
fruit is larger and more palatable than with us, 
and it has the merit of being a cleaner kind of 
food than that which usually satisfies the Dig- 
ger's hunger. Rude as these people are, they 
have sense enough to observe that all years are 


not equally productive in these nuts, and fore- 
sight sufficient to lay in a good stock during the 
plentiful years. They pound them up, mix them 
with wild fruit, and make their meal into a sort 
of bread. They are said to resort to a stratagem 
to obtain the acorns in greater abundance. There 
is a bird in California, called, from his habits, 
the carpenteir or carpenter. He busies himself 
in making holes in the redwood trees and filling 
them with acorns. When a Digger finds a tree 
stocked in this manner, he kindles a fire at its 
base, (so the story goes,) and keeps it up till the 
tree falls, when he helps himself to the acorns. 

Grass-seed constitutes another portion of their 
diet, and this is gathered by the women, who use 
for the purpose, two baskets, one shaped like a 
shield, the other deep and provided with a han- 
dle. With the shield the top of the grass is 
brushed and the seed shaken down into the deep 
basket. This also is made into bread. 

It is commonly supposed that these Indians 
belong to a single tribe. This, however, I think 
is doubtful. They are scattered over a wide ex- 
tent of country, being found far to the north, 
among the Utahs. Those upon the frontier 
usually call themselves Shoshonees or Snakes, 
while some claim to be Utahs. Their skin is 
nearly as dark as that of the negro. Indeed 
they greatly resemble the African in color and 
general appearance. They are distinguished 


from him chiefly by their aquiline noses, their 
long hair and their well-shaped feet. The south- 
ern Diggers have a lighter complexion, being 
not so dark as a mulatto. 

It is reported on good authority that Captain 
Sutter, the first settler on the Sacramento, at 
whose fort (the present site of Sacramento) gold 
was first discovered, employed these people to 
build his fort for him. He paid them in tin coin 
of his own invention, upon which was stamped 
the number of days the holder had worked. This 
was taken at his "store" for articles of merchan- 
dise, such as dry goods, &c. He fed his field In- 
dians upon the off'al of slaughtered animals and 
the bran sifted from ground wheat. The latter 
was boiled in large iron kettles ; and then placed 
in wooden troughs from which they scooped it 
out with their hands. They are said to have 
eaten it, poor as it was, with great relish, and it 
was no doubt more palatable and wholesome than 
their customary diet. 

These Indians are inveterate gamblers, and 
when they have been so fortunate as to obtain 
clothing, they are almost sure to gamble it away 
before they stop. Their game is carried on as 
follows. A number sit cross-legged on the ground 
in a circle, and they are then divided into two 
parties, each of which has two head players. A 
ball is passed rapidly from hand to hand along 
the whole of one party, while the other attempts 

to i^uoss ill wliat liaiul it is. It' siiooossfiil, it 
count?; one tor the guossiiii:: party towards the 
grtiiio. If luisuccossiul, it counts one in favor of 
the opposite party. The count is kept with 
sticks. All tlie wliile tliis is goiui:; on, they 
grunt in chorus, swinging; their bodies to keep 
time witli their grunts. The articles staked are 
placed in the centre of the ring. When they 
once get excited in play, they never stop so long 
as they have any thing to stake. After getting 
through with their money, their trinkets and 
their provisions, they stake their clothes and 
keep on gambling till they reduce themselves to 
the costume of Adam. 

The fate of these poor creatures is involved in 
no uncertainty. They must melt away before 
the white man like snow before a spring sun. 
They are too indolent to work, too cowardly to 
fight. When pinched by the severity of hunger, 
and unable to procure their customary filthy 
diet, they are driven to the settlements, where 
they steal if they can, and do a little labor if 
they must. Xo sooner, however, have they pro- 
cured the means of satisfying their immediate 
wants, than they abandon the employment of- 
fered them and relapse into their customary in- 
dolent habits. Of course, it can only be wOiile 
labor is in such great demand as it now is, that 
they can secure even this temporary employment. 
When hands become abundant in that country, 


the laboring white man, the Chinefic or the ne- 
gro will monopolize all the work. The Indian 
then will he eonfined to thieving for a livelihood, 
and that is something whieh the Californians 
will not permit. Home of these miserable people 
have been eruelly butchered by the whites for 
indulging their propensity to make free with 
other people's property. They cannot fight for 
their plunder, and consequently they must siiifer 
as patiently as they can whatever penalty is in- 
flicted. If the fierce warlike tribes of the north 
could not oppose the march of civilization, how 
easily will these poor weak children of the south 
be crushed under its advancing wheels! 

In Marysville, passing by one of the slaughter- 
houses, I saw a collection of about twenty of 
these wretches waiting for the offal. They were 
in the habit of presenting themselves regularly 
every morning at the same jdace and at the 
same hour to gather the refuse of the slaughter- 
ing establishment. The proprietors rather en- 
couraged these visiters than otherwise, for the 
same reason that the turkey-buzzard's visits are 
so acceptable to the denizens of most of our 
southern cities — they serve the purpose of scav- 
engers so admirably. On this particular occa- 
sion, however, one of the proprietors seemed not 
so well satisfied, from the fact of his having de- 
tected one or two of these '* Diggers " in the very 
act of stealing some choice pieces of beef. A 


stalwart Tennesseean and his son were the pro- 
prietors. The father was a very stout man, and 
more than a match for fifty of these poor misera- 
ble devils; fond of whiskey, an inveterate swearer, 
and withal, when excited, as was then the case, 
dangerous. As soon as the theft was discovered 
the eldest Tennesseean seized a meat-axe, and 
with a tremendous oath threatened to immolate 
the entire tribe, or, to use his own quaint but 
profane language, to ^' populate hell three 
deep with the damned thieving Digger Indians 
in less than no time." This was said to his son, 
a good natured young man who was using his 
best endeavors to prevent his father from putting 
bis terrible threat into execution. Happily for 
the Indians, they had sufficient time to get out 
of reach of the enraged man, and make good 
their escape with the stolen meat. The butcher's 
scheme for populating the infernal regions was 
to my mind quite original, to say the least of it, 
and notwithstanding the impiety of the thing, I 
could not refrain from laughing. It afterwards 
became a matter of grave consideration how he 
would accomplish an undertaking of this descrip- 
tion, without first having recourse to some actual 
measurement, the better to determine the amount 
of feet and inches required for each separate body. 
I think he must have been something of a sur- 
veyor, and had already measured the area con- 
tained within the dominions of the evil one ; how 


else could he name the precise depth of '' Dig- 
gers '' he intended to furnish ? Our worthy- 
butcher, it must be conceded, understood geome- 
try, as "three deep" distinctly implies length, 
breadth and thickness. The only true difficulty 
in the whole thing was the specified period of its 
performance. I understand what is meant by 
"no time", very well, but cannot say I am so 
confident as to the meaning and intent of the 
phrase " in less than no time." I dare say though 
some very short period of time is intended, and 
if time and opportunity serves, upon some future 
day I will make the inquiry of the Tennesseean 
or his son (I should prefer the latter) what it 
really means. 

There are comparatively few negroes in this 
new State. Most of those who are found here 
have emigrated from the northern and eastern 
States in the capacity of cooks and stewards of 
vessels. They are in the same situation as their 
brethren in New York and Massachusetts, slaves 
to no single individual but to the entire com- 
munity. Like free negroes every where else, 
they inhabit the worst parts of the towns in 
California, and live commonly in characteristic 
filth and degradation. 

There are a few blacks from the South, and 
these have been brought out here as slaves. It 
is true that on their arrival here they have the 
power of claiming their freedom ; but such is 


their attachment to their masters that this is 
rarely done. Instances have occurred in which 
they have been enticed away by meddling aboli- 
tionists, but, disgusted with a freedom which was 
of no value to them, they have been eager to re- 
turn again to their masters. Several cases of 
this kind have come under my own observation. 
I was personally acquainted with a New Or- 
leans sea-captain and ship-owner, who had a very 
likely negro man named Joe. This slave had 
acted as his special servant for many years, and 
had made two or three voyages with him be- 
tween Shanghai and San Francisco. His con- 
duct was entirely unobjectionable, and his duties 
were always promptly and efficiently discharged. 
Indeed, the captain informed me that, though 
he had reared Joe, he never had occasion to whip 
him for any offence. Others had observed the 
admirable traits of the negro, and several per- 
sons had attempted to buy him, offering extra- 
ordinary prices ; but his master, having the 
highest appreciation of his qualities and a strong 
personal attachment for him, positively refused 
to part with him on any terms. At last, how- 
ever, Joe deserted the vessel. An abolitionist had 
persuaded him to leave his master ; and a short 
while thereafter he married a Mexican woman — 
a sort of half-breed — and went off to the mines, 
near Campo Seco. But he found his freedom un- 
profitable and troublesome. While in his legiti- 


mate station lie had always had an easy time, 
plenty of food and an abundance of clothing. 
He had also accumulated two or three hundred 
dollars, which had been given him by his mas- 
ter, and others, for extra services. Not long af- 
ter his marriage with the Mexican woman, his 
money disappeared. He became penniless, rag- 
ged, dejected, and, as a last resort, determined to 
return to San Francisco, beg his master's pardon, 
and, if possible, reinstate himself in the favor of 
one who had always been his friend. He did 
return, presented himself as a suppliant before 
his master, told him that he had been persuaded 
to leave, that he was sorry for having done so, 
and now wished to enter his service again, prom- 
ising unwavering faithfulness in the future. 
The master regarded him with a steady gaze 
until he had finished his story, and then, in a 
distinct and dispassionate tone, said to him : 
^' You had no cause for leaving me; I had always 
treated you well. Now you may go; I don't 
want you any longer." At the conclusion of 
these words, the negro dropped in despair at his 
master's feet, and wept like a child. Moved 
by the sincerity of the negro's repentance, and 
having duly considered the extenuating circum- 
stances of the case, the master overlooked his es- 
trangement, set him to work and never liad the 
least difficulty with him afterwards. Of his 
Dulciua, whom it seems he had married in a La- 


guna dance-house, I know nothing, except the 
information I gained from Joe himself, that she 
left him as soon as his money was gone. 

One more instance, and I have done with the 
negroes. A gentleman and three of his slaves, 
from the western part of North Carolina, had 
heen mining ahout two years, near Qnartzhurg, 
in Mariposa county. Their efforts having been 
crowned with success, the master concluded to 
return home, and speaking to his slaves of his 
intention, he told them that they were at liberty 
to remain in California, where their freedom 
would not be disturbed, and where they would 
be entitled to the entire proceeds of their labor. 
To this they replied that the abolitionists had 
told them that long before, and after detailing 
several attempts to decoy them from their owner, 
and signifying their unwillingness to remain in 
California, they concluded by requesting their 
master to take them with him. He consented, 
paid their passage, and they all returned home 
in the same vessel. 

The applicability of slave labor to the soil of 
Southern California is now becoming a theme of 
discussion in that region, and it is probable 
that the experiment will one day be tried. In- 
deed, the propriety of dividing the State into 
Northern and Southern California has already 
occupied the attention of the legislature ; and 
while it is generally admitted that the people 


are about equally divided upon the measure, it 
is universally conceded that, in case of its adop- 
tion, the southern portion will establish the laws 
and institutions of Virginia and Louisiana. 




In the preceding chapters it has been my 
purpose to impart such information as wouhi 
lead my reader to a correct knowledge of the 
present condition of things in California, and to 
aid him in deciding whether he will emigrate to 
that country, or content himself in the Atlantic 
States. I have endeavored (in a very brief and 
feeble manner, it is true) to purge the films from 
his eyes, that he might see the country in its 
true light. I have told him of the distorted and 
exaggerated stories which have been circulated 
concerning it ; of its barren soil, and unfavora- 
ble seasons ; of the seeming incompleteness of 
nature, and the paucity of resources of employ- 
ment therein ; of its scanty productions, and de- 
pendence upon importations for all kinds of pro- 
visions and merchandise ; of the expensiveness 
of living, and the extraordinary obstacles which 
lie in the way of prosecuting business with suc- 
cess ; of the unprecedented number of mishaps 
and accidents, and the losses and perils to be 
apprehended from fire and water ; of the lack of 
scenery, and the disagreeable consequences of 


the weather ; of the inefficiency of the laws, and 
the anarchical state of society ; of the breaches 
of faith between man and wife — of the almost 
utter disregard of the marriage relation, and the 
unexampled debauchery and lewdness of the 
community ; of the contrariety of opinions which 
prevail, and the continual disputes and disturb- 
ances which arise in consequence of the hetero- 
geneousness of the population ; of the servile 
employments to which learned and professional 
men have to resort for the means of subsistence, 
and the thousands of penniless vagabonds who 
wander about in misery and dejection ; of the 
dissipated and desperate habits of the people, 
and the astounding number of suicides and mur- 
ders ; of the incessant brawls and tumults, and 
the popularity of dueling; of the arbitrary do- 
ings of mobs, and the supremacy of lynch-law ; 
of the general practice of carrying deadly wea- 
pons, and the contempt that is shown for human 
life ; of the great difficulty of securing reliable 
titles to landed property, and the fatal rencoun- 
ters with the squatters ; of the bacchanalian 
riots by day, and the saturnalian revels at night; 
of the perfidy and delinquency of public func- 
tionaries, and the impossibility of electing an 
honest man to office ; of the sophistication of 
provisions, and the filthy fare in hotels and res- 
taurants ; of the untrustworthy character of busi- 
ness men, and the frauds and stratagems prac- 


ticed in almost every transaction ; of the con- 
temning of religious sentiments, and the des- 
ecration of the Sahbath ; of the incendiaries in 
the cities, and the banditti in tlie mountains ; of 
the alarming depravity of the adolescent genera- 
tion — of the abominable dissoluteness of many 
of the women — the infamous vices of the men, 
and the flagitious crimes against nature. I have 
spoken freely of all these things ; and now what 
else shall I say ? Is it necessary that I should 
defile still more paper with these detestable 
truths ? Can any one be still in a state of inde- 
cision about going to California ? I am aware 
that the public mind has been somewhat unde- 
cided upon this subject, and I have essayed to 
give it the proper turn, or restore it to its accus- 
tomed equilibrium. I have s]3read before my 
reader a combination of facts, and have related 
events which occurred under my own observa- 
tion. There are scores of other topics which 
might be brought in to give strength to my gen- 
eral argument ; but I dislike to tax the patience 
of the reader with such a prolonged catalogue of 
unwholesome realities. 

It was my intention to dwell somewhat at 
length upon a variety of subjects of interest, 
but the space which I assigned to myself is al- 
ready nearly filled up, so that I find I shall be 
compelled to abandon this design and bring 
these desultory remarks to a close. It would^ 


however, be a neglect for which I would not 
readily excuse myself, were I to pass over the 
subject of the Pacific Railroad without note or 
comment. It is agitating the public mind too 
deeply, and it is too intimately connected not 
only with the prosperity of our Pacific coast, but 
also with tbat of the whole nation, to be lightly 
regarded ; and as some point in California must 
be its terminus, if common sense is to guide us in 
selecting its course, a work on that country must 
necessarily take it into account. 

The necessity of this important national high- 
way is too strongly impressed upon the minds of 
the thinking people of this nation, to be easily 
lost sight of Some erroneous opinions, however, 
are entertained in regard to the objects of the 
road by many who warmly advocate it. It is 
supposed by a few that California is to contribute 
some wonderful benefits to it, and some few even 
go so far as to suppose that she can support it. 
This is very absurd, as the previous chapters 
have, we hope, clearly explained. 

California certainly will contribute something 
to the support of this great enterprise, but can- 
not, by any means, constitute the chief induce- 
ment to its construction. Her gold will of course 
come more rapidly, readily and safely across the 
continent than around Cape Horn. In this re- 
spect, the saving to the consignees on the Atlan- 
tic coast will be very great^ and will be repre- 


sented by three items : saving of time, saving in 
the interest of money, and saving in conseqnence 
of the diminution of the risks of transportation. 
A glance at our table of casualties by sea, in a 
former chapter, will show how great the last 
named saving promises to be. That on the in- 
terest of money will also be great. It requires 
about three weeks to send from California by the 
shortest existing route to New Orleans, while, by 
the railroad, that city will be but a few days' 
distant from San Francisco or San Diego. Al- 
lowing a week to be occupied in the trip, the 
saving in this item will amount to a half a 
month, and as a million is often brought in a 
single cargo, this is no trifle. At six per cent, per 
annum, it would amount to twenty-five hundred 
dollars on each shipment. The item of time will 
be sufficiently appreciated by the mercantile 
reader without comment from us. 

These, however, are not the only benefits 
which the road may expect to derive directly 
from California. Much of the British commerce, 
which now finds its way to that distant region 
by the long routes, will go thither by tlie more 
direct and expeditious way of the new road. A 
way commerce will also inevitably spring up and 
there will be a cordon of settlements and towns 
stretching across a wilderness which years of or- 
dinary immigration would be required to fill up. 
Branch roads would also soon start from the 


main trunk to various important regions along 
the route. The Santa Fe trade and the com- 
merce of the prairies generally would soon seek 
this as its natural channel. The emigration to 
California would also largely benefit the road. 
This is likely to be large for some time to come, 
and the return tide would also contribute to in- 
crease the pecuniary revenue of this great na- 
tional enterprise. 

To California it would be of the greatest ser- 
vice, and the enlargement of the resources of 
that fState would of course increase those of the 
improvement which causes the beneficial change. 
The country would then be settled from the east 
as well as from the west, and the gold of the 
Sierra Nevada would speedily be brought into 

These advantages, considerable as they are, 
really form but a very small portion of the in- 
ducements to the construction of this important 
work. The great and important revenues of the 
road will come from far beyond the limits of the 
State. The enormous commerce of Eastern Asia 
and its Archipelago, which has enriched every 
nation that ever secured it, will then flow over 
our country leaving its golden sands behind it. 
China will send its teas, Amboyna its spices, 
Java its tin, Japan its copper, through our do- 
minions. No commercial manoeuvring, no di- 
plomatic juggles can divert this mighty trade 


from its natural course. There is a destiny in 
eommeree, as Avell as in otlier things, and late 
seems determined to pour the riclies oi' the worKl 
into our hxp. If, in former times, the slow cara- 
vans which conveyed the treasures of the east to 
western ports, left wealth behind them, wherever 
their footprints were seen, tliough vexed by Tar- 
tar and by Arab plunderers, how much more 
benefit is likely to be derived from a rapid and 
safe transit through a civilized nation, ready, 
eager and able to add their quota to the stream 
of wealth ? 

We must not forget, also, tliat this eastern 
commerce is greater and more important than it 
ever was. Our etlorts have unsealed Japan, and 
before long we shall be reaping the fruits of our 
enterprise in that quarter. Australia, too, is 
now ready to add her gold to a commerce already 
immensely valuable. China must open her doors 
still wider, for the world will knock loudly at 
them. Nor is this all. The whole trade of the 
western coast of South America must change its 
course. A Pacific capital is destined to absorb 
it. Tlie whaling fleets of the Pacific will not 
have the stormy passage around Cape Horn to 
dread, but another New Bedford will look greas- 
ily upon the western ocean. The fur trade also 
will change its course. Oregon will furnish it 
with a port of departure, California with a per- 
mit of cntrv. Siberia itself mav divide its trade 


between San Francisco and St. Petersburg. We 
seem to he on the point of taking the position 
which China has always claimed, and of becoming 
the true centre of the world, at least so far as 
commerce is concerned. 

T believe it is now generally admitted that the 
Southern route is the most practicable — that it 
is the most level, the most fertile, the best wa- 
tered, the best timbered, and that the climate 
through which it runs is the only one that is 
favorable at all seasons of the year. I have con- 
versed with several gentlemen who passed over 
the various routes on their way to California, 
and they informed me that the mountainous 
parts of the northern routes are usually blocked 
up during the winter with immense drifts of 
snow, which lie upon the ground to the depth of 
from forty to fifty feet — sometimes much deeper. 
Those who traveled over the northern routes 
also complained of the scarcity of wood, water 
and provisions, and represented the Indians as 
being very hostile and treacherous ; while, in 
most cases, those who traveled over the southern 
route experienced no hindrance, difficulty or im- 
pediment whatever, having had pleasure, peace 
and plenty all the way. But besides the advan- 
tages of climate, surface, soil, wood and water, 
there are other considerations which weigh in 
favor of the southern route. The distance is 
much shorter, and the population is more friend- 


ly, civilized and thrifty. It will bring us on 
more intimate terms with the Mexicans, and they 
will he induced to purchase larger quantities of 
our manufactured and imported merchandise. 

Every southern man should feel a lively inte- 
rest in this gigantic scheme, and enlist all his 
energies in aid of its completion. It affords one 
of the finest opportunities that the South has 
ever enjoyed for establishing her commercial in- 
dependence, for counterbalancing the increasing 
commercial power of the North. In connection 
with this subject, I may here present an extract 
from a letter which I had the honor to receive, 
not long since, from one of the most sagacious 
and far-sighted patriots of the South. Speaking 
of the great Atlantic and Pacific Railway, among 
other things, he says : " North Carolina should 
not be an indifierent spectator of this noble en- 
terprise. The port of Beaufort, unrivaled for 
health, possesses a depth of water sufficient for 
all convenient purposes ; while the placid bosom 
of its well-protected harbor, justly entitles it to 
be styled the Pacific port of the Atlantic coast. 
Pursue its degree of latitude westward across 
the continent and the Pacific ocean, and you 
will find that degree passing near Memphis, 
Little Rock, Fulton, El Paso, and San Diego to 
Shanghai, the last two being the nearest ports 
of the two continents, in so low a latitude. 
Railways are chartered from Beaufort westward, 


and are constructed, or in progress of construc- 
tion, that will reach perhaps one third or half 
way across the continent. May we not then hope, 
ere long, to see them uniting the two oceans?" 

Experienced navigators have said that, in con- 
sequence of the favorable course of the trade- 
winds, the voyage can he accomplished between 
San Diego and Shanghai in about eight days' 
less time th^-n it can be between San Francisco 
and Shanghai ; and this is certainly a very strong 
argument in favor of running the road directly 
to San Diego — leaving San Francisco to the right. 

Since the above was written^ the following 
abstract of the " Keport of the Secretary of War 
on the several Pacific Kailroad Explorations" 
has been published ; and as it more than sub- 
stantiates the correctness of my remarks, and 
imbodies a great deal of valuable information 
concerning the various routes, I hope the reader 
will peruse it with due care and attention. I 
here transcribe it, with brief comments, from the 
columns of the Herald: 


The " Eeport of the Secretary of War on the 
several Pacific Railroad Explorations " is before 
us. It is an interesting and instructive docu- 
ment, embracing a careful review of the capa- 
bilities and drawbacks of the following routes, 
from the actual surveys : 


First — The extreme northern route, (Major 
Stevens',) between the 47th and 49th parallels 
of latitude, starting from St. Paul in Minnesota 
territory, and striking the Pacific at Puget's 
Sound, or the mouth of the Columbia, in Oregon. 
This will require a road, allowing for ascent and 
descent, of 2,207 miles. Estimated cost, $130,- 
871,000. The impediments in this route are the 
mountains to be tunneled, the numerous rivers to 
be bridged, the scarcity of timber, the coldness 
of the climate, and its proximity to the British 

Second — Koute of the forty-first parallel, (Mor- 
mon route,) commencing on the navigable waters 
of the Missouri, or on the Platte river, and strik- 
ing thence over the Plains to the South Pass, 
thence to the Great Salt Lake, thence across the 
Great Basin to the Sierra Nevada chain, thence 
over that chain, and down to the Sacramento 
river, and down the same to Benicia, just above 
San Francisco,, on the same harbor. Estimated 
distance from Council Blufi's to Benicia, 2,031 
miles; estimated cost, $116,095,000. Obstruc- 
tions same as in the first route, including wider 
deserts and deeper and rougher mountain 

Third — Koute of the thirty-eighth parallel, 
more familiarly known as Benton's great Central 
route, pronounced utterly impracticable from its 
mountain obstructions. Estimated length from 


Westport to San Francisco, 2,080 miles. The 
topographical engineers gave up all estimates 
of the cost of a road by this route, in absolute 

Fourth— Route of the thirty-fifth parallel— 
(Senator Rusk's route) — beginning at Fort Smith, 
in Arkansas, thence westward to Albuquerque 
on the Upper Rio Grande, thence across the 
Rocky Mountains and the Colorado of the West 
and great desert basin and its mountains, and 
the lower end of the Sierra Nevada chain to San 
Pedro, at the southern extremity of California, 
on the Pacific. This route is about as bad as 
Benton's, although the engineers think that 3,13'7 
equated miles and $169,210,265 might, perhaps, 
do the work. 

Fifth — Route near the thirty-second parallel, 
or the extreme southern route, via Texas, New 
Mexico, El Paso and the Gila to the Pacific. 
Estimated distance from Fulton in Arkansas, to 
San Pedro on the Pacific, 1,618 miles — equated 
length, allowing for ascents and descents, 2,239 
miles. Estimated cost, $68,970,000. 

The advantages of this route are, that it is 
practically a third shorter than any of the others 
between the Mississippi and the Pacific — that it 
goes by the flank of the Rocky Mountains and 
the Sierra Nevada chain, instead of going over 
or under them — that the route is over a region 
of elevated table lands requiring little or no 


grading — and that the soil is dry and free from 
snow from one end to the other, except occa- 
sional light falls in New Mexico. 


Distance of Ascents and Length of Comparative 

ROUTES. Routes. Descents. Level Routes. Cost. 

Miles. Feet. Miles. 

Extreme northern... 1,864 18,100 2,20*7 $130,*<81,000 

Mormon 2,032 29,120 2,583 116,095,000 

Benton's 2,080 49,986 3,125 * 

Albuquerque 1,892 48,812 2,816 169,210,265 

Extreme southern... 1,618 32, '784 2,239 68,910,000 
*The cost by this route is so great that the road is impracticable. 



Extreme Northern route ) / 6,044 

Tunnel at elevation of,/ \ 5,219 

Northern route 8,373 

Benton's route, \ f 10,032 

Tunnel at elevation of, | \ 9, 540 

Albuquerque route 1,412 

Extreme Southern route 5,717 

These are the results of careful scientific ex- 
plorations, by highly accomplished engineers, of 
the several routes, from the extreme Northern to 
the extreme Southern route ; and it is only ne- 
cessary to consult one of the latest maps of the 
United States to see at a glance that the only 
really available route is that of the extreme 
South, via El Paso and the Gadsden country. 
The estimated cost of a railroad (single track, we 
suppose) by this route is_, in round numbers, $69,- 
000,000, about half the estimate of the best of the 
other routes, to say nothing further of the sav- 
ing of a thousand miles or so in the important 
matter of the distance to be traversed. 


We consider this report conclusive as to the 
best route for a Pacific Railroad — it is the ex- 
treme Southern route. A glance on any respect- 
able map of the United States, at the several 
routes indicated, will satisfy the r.eader of this 
fact. The engineers of the army have only 
made it more clear and satisfactory from their 
actual surveys. 

But I must return again to my theme — Cali- 
fornia ! I will now lay before the reader a few 
extracts from letters which I have recently re- 
ceived from friends in the Pacific State, and it 
will be seen how fully they corroborate my own 

An editorial friend, writing to me from San 
Francisco, says : — ^' Business all over California 
remains in the same stagnant condition, and 
every sign prognosticates a time of hardship and 
suffering. A crisis, in my opinion, is approach- 
ing, which will drag down nine-tenths of the 
business houses in the country. Money gets 
more stringent every day, and every body seems 
to be at a loss to know what to do. I must con- 
fess I see nothing promising in the future. It is 
truly a dark clay for California." 

Another correspondent says — " There have 

been an unusual number of murders, suicides, 

duels and squatter riots within the last fortnight. 

Heaven only knows what is to become of our 



people. The devil seems to have them all hy the 
nose, and there is no telling where his double- 
tailed majesty means to lead them." In another 
letter, this same correspondent goes on to say — 
"I have no encouraging news to send you hy 
this mail. Our markets continue distressingly 
dull. A great many failures have taken place, 
and others are anticipated. Indeed, these are 
trying times with the mercantile portion of our 
community. Every things wears a dull and un- 
promising aspect. Hundreds of mechanics and 
laborers, many of whom are in a deplorably des- 
titute condition, are sauntering about the streets, 
having nothing to do, and being unable to find 
employment. And as a consequence of this un- 
prosperous state of things, we have to contend 
with many cases of despair and desperation. 
Within the last week, four suicides, three mur- 
ders, numerous robberies and other crimes have 
been committed in our city; and the accounts 
from the up-country towns, and from the interior 
of the State, convince us that there is less re- 
spect paid to the moral and civil laws in those 
places, than there is in this. It is known that 
there are now two large bands of highwaymen 
prowling about the country ; and our cities are 
filled with secret organizations for rapacity and 

Again, another correspondent says — " Every 
avenue to business is blocked up with a crowd 


waiting for an opportunity. Scores of men of 
almost every trade and profession are seeking 
employment amongst us ; but there is no de- 
mand for their services. You have no idea of 
the number of young men who are getting them- 
selves into a bad pickle by coming to this coun- 
try. California is indeed a mammoth lottery, 
and the credulous world has been very impa- 
tient to secure tickets in it, refusing to believe 
the fact that there are ninety-nine blanks to 
every prize. Two earthquakes and several fires 
have occurred since I wrote to you from Sacra- 
mento. The earthquakes were very slight, and 
but little damage resulted from them ; but the 
losses by fire have been immense. Enormous 
sums of foreign capital are continually passing 
between the Atlantic States and our city, in 
search of profitable investment.'' 

The following interesting letter, just received, 
I give in full : — 

Weaverville, Cal., May 7th, 1855. 

My Dear Friend, — I owe you an amende for the 
" long and silent lapse" that has lately occurred in our 
correspondence — or rather in that part of it which ema- 
nates from me. A simple statement of the fact that I 
have been constantly on the move for the past four 
months is the best apology I have to offer in extenuation 
of my fault. 

Let us retrospect a little. I wrote you frequently 
from Humboldt Bay, in answer to favors — my last letter 


having been written the day previous to my leaving that 
place. As I then intimated, the next day found me on 
my way to the mines ; and the journey, rough as it was, 
during the most inclement season of the year, and reach- 
ing to a distance of one hundred and fifty miles, I per- 
formed on foot ! You have a pretty good idea of the 
mountains of this country, and can realize the amount of 
fatigue and hardship attendant upon such a trip as mine. 
Scarcely twenty-four hours passed that it did not either 
rain, hail or snow, while we had not eyen a tent to shel- 
ter us. Yet, with all this, I improved daily in health 
and strength — weighing now ten pounds heavier than at 
any time previous. 

"What is to be the result, pecuniarily, of this trip, is 
yet to be answered. I have a mining claim, which, with 
all my industry and economy, has only yielded me a liv- 
ing. It may improve — I may make a "strike" — but 
this is mere speculation. Time alone can tell. I like 
mining much — hard work though it be — and am resolved 
to follow it as a business for the remnant of my days, or 
until I have a competence. There is a charm — an inex- 
pressible something, inherent in the pursuit — which car- 
ries a man through the day's toil with unabated energy. 
It is a feeling akin to that which leads men to the gaming 
table, to wild speculations, or to hazardous undertakings ; 
and each succeeding day finds a miner as eager as ever 
to continue the search after the hidden treasure. The 
gold has a different appearance, a greater intrinsic value 
in his eyes, than that which is acquired in any other 
way. He is the first to receive it from Nature's bank 
of deposit, and it possesses a beauty that no coin can 


It is away up on the head waters of Trinity river, or 
rather on one of its tributaries, that my cabin rears its 
humble proportions. AVith no neighbors nearer than one 
mile — the mountains rising high above and all around 
me — encompassed by a forest of pine and spruce —in the 
midst of wild beasts, wild cats, catamounts, grizzlies and 
lions — I am leading a genuine backwoods life. It is 
needless to say that its novelty charms me, and that I 
glory in the most perfect independence. Nor is this all. 
Flowers, beautiful, rich, rare, bedeck the mountain sides, 
(for this is May, the month of flowers,) and I can gather 
a bouquet that would shame those of civilized gardens. 
Nature defies art, and Nature's gems stand proudly, un- 
rivaled and unapproached. And yet this is not all. 
There is a little bird who sits and warbles, almost all 
day long, the sweetest melody I ever heard. Up in the 
foliage of a huge pine, adjacent to my cabin, dwells 
the pretty songster ; and I speak but the truth when I 
say that beside him a canary would hang its head. My 
wild-wood warbler reigns the king of songsters. 

My furniture arrangements are not, as yet, finished. 
I have neither table nor chairs. Supported at one end 
by a sack of potatoes, at the other by my left hand, is the 
board on which this sheet is laid, while your humble 
friend sits on the ground, a la Turk, (or tailor,) and in- 
dites this "missel" to you. I am meek and lowly in 
my pretensions now, Hinton, and my rough miner's suit 
sits lightly on my frame. Adieu for the present. I 
hare no envelopes, and must, therefore, close on this 
page. Wishing you every success and happiness, 
I remain your attached friend, 

* * * 


And now listen to what the District Attorney 
for the county of San Francisco says. In a speech 
wliich he delivered some time ago in a criminal 
case in the city of San Francisco, he makes use 
of the following language: — '^^ Twelve hundred 
murders have been committed in this city within 
the last four years, and only one of the murder- 
ers has been convicted !" What a striking com- 
ment is this upon California justice ! Twelve 
hundred murders in the city of San Francisco 
alone, within the space of four years, and only 
one conviction ! But it is unnecessary for me to 
lengthen my remarks upon these subjects. If 
additional evidences of the corruption and rot- 
tenness of affairs in California are required, all 
that is necessary is to look into the papers that 
come from that State, and the desired knowledge 
will soon be obtained. Here, however, let me 
simply say that it is impossible to get at the real, 
naked facts from the California journals. Al- 
most every newspaper in the State is under the 
control of interested parties, and they will not 
allow the truth to be spoken when it conflicts 
with their schemes and projects. Nevertheless, 
enough may be learned from them to convince 
any reasonable person of the correctness of my 
description of California. 

Thus, then, I have given a fair and truthful 
statement of what I saw, and those who are not 
yet convinced must go and test the matter for 


themselves. They will find what I have told 
them to be true, and that there is more enormitv 
there than I have ventured to detail. 

The absence of all social feeling, of refinement, 
of the little elegancies of life, is painfully mani- 
fest. It would, of course, be absurd to expect in 
a new country all the luxuries of an old civiliza- 
tion, but their absence constitutes no excuse for 
the total want of even the decencies of life. Law 
is a nullity, or at best a mere nominal thing ; 
order does not exist except where the dread of 
the bowie-knife or the revolver enforces it. Men 
of notoriously bad character are intrusted with 
the management of affairs, and are easily access- 
ible to bribery. Justice is proverbially venal, 
legislation is utterly corrupt. Such a loose ad- 
ministration of public affairs would be produc- 
tive of bad results any where, but its influence 
is especially malign in California, where so many 
desperate men are to be found, determined, at 
every hazard, to better their fortunes. Murder, 
robbery and swindling are the methods by which 
they aim to increase their income, the law be- 
ing powerless to check them. 

We have called attention to the general bar- 
renness of the soil, and endeavored to impress 
upon the reader's mind a conviction of the great 
uncertainties of mining. What then remains to 
attract the emigrant ? The feverish excitement 
of speculation, which entices so many only to de- 


stroy them. In all countries, this is productive 
of as much loss as gain, but in California, where 
projects are pursued with a recklessness else- 
where unknown, the losses are on a gigantic 
scale. Disappointments, therefore, have the keen- 
ness of those of the beaten gambler, to whom de- 
feat is irretrievable ruin. What wonder, then, 
that suicides are so common in that unhappy 
coimtry ? 

Of the condition of females in that State, it 
is useless for me to speak. I have already said 
enougb on that subject, and it becomes every man 
who thinks of emigrating thither, to ponder well 
the risks to which he will subject the ladies of 
his family. The enormities chargeable upon 
California in this respect would be difficult to 
parallel in any age of the world. They are of 
so gross a nature that it is impossible even to 
allude to them in a book which may be seen by 

And now, after having well considered all 
these things, after having become thoroughly 
acquainted with the facts I have been at the 
pains to collect and record, I would again ask 
my reader, Are you going to California ?